Share 11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

Caitlin Kleinschmidt is part of the sales team at Workman Publishing. She has previously held positions at Viking/Riverhead, Simon & Schuster, Oxford University Press, and Macmillan. A Navy brat, she lived on both coasts and credits the Dear America series for her lifelong love of history. She has a special place in her heart for narrative nonfiction, as well as books about Eastern Europe and ballet.

Each time Erik Larson touches pen to paper, it is a book-publishing event. Specializing in resurrecting once-famous news stories, Larson knows that history often provides a far richer cast of characters than any novel ever could. Bringing the history of an entire era to life through a single narrative thread, Larson’s stories have ranged from a murder mystery at Chicago’s 1893 World Fair to the American ambassador who witnessed Hitler’s rise to power to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania during the First World War. If you think that serious nonfiction can’t achieve the intimate characterizations and epic scope of the greatest novels, here are the page-turners to add to your reading list.


Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.

Unbroken
Laura Hillenbrand

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.

MENTIONED IN:

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By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

An Olympic Hero’s Astonishing Survival

By Suzanne Donahue | August 4, 2014

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King Leopold's Ghost
by Adam Hochschild

As European powers scrambled for Africa in the 1880s, King Leopold II of Belgium seized the vast territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering, he looted its natural resources and brutalized its people—reducing its population by ten million souls—all the while cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian.

King Leopold's Ghost
Adam Hochschild

As European powers scrambled for Africa in the 1880s, King Leopold II of Belgium seized the vast territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering, he looted its natural resources and brutalized its people—reducing its population by ten million souls—all the while cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian.

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By Kerry Fiallo | September 14, 2017

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

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The Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown

Re-creating the history of an entire era through the delicate hull of a racing shell, this is the improbable story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal: nine working-class boys from the American West who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world the meaning of commitment, determination, and optimism.

The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown

Re-creating the history of an entire era through the delicate hull of a racing shell, this is the improbable story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal: nine working-class boys from the American West who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world the meaning of commitment, determination, and optimism.

MENTIONED IN:

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By Sarah Jane Abbott | August 2, 2016

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

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Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
by Max Hastings

Following the dramatic breakdown of diplomacy to the frenzied battles, Max Hastings gives us a conflict radically different from the familiar narrative of barbed wire, mud, and futility. The 1915 sinking of the Lusitania was the end of an era, and this is a vivid portrait of how Europe became embroiled in the war that would change everything.

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
Max Hastings

Following the dramatic breakdown of diplomacy to the frenzied battles, Max Hastings gives us a conflict radically different from the familiar narrative of barbed wire, mud, and futility. The 1915 sinking of the Lusitania was the end of an era, and this is a vivid portrait of how Europe became embroiled in the war that would change everything.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt

Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the early morning hours of May 2, 1981. For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this beautiful and isolated remnant of the Old South. John Berendt’s sharply observed and suspenseful account of this landmark murder case is a sublime and seductive reading experience.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
John Berendt

Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the early morning hours of May 2, 1981. For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this beautiful and isolated remnant of the Old South. John Berendt’s sharply observed and suspenseful account of this landmark murder case is a sublime and seductive reading experience.

MENTIONED IN:

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11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

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The Girls of Atomic City
by Denise Kiernan

Intimate and detailed, Denise Kiernan explores the untold story of the thousands of young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in American history: the creation of the atomic bomb.

The Girls of Atomic City
Denise Kiernan

Intimate and detailed, Denise Kiernan explores the untold story of the thousands of young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in American history: the creation of the atomic bomb.

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The XY Factor: 13 True Tales of Women Who Changed Science

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By Aimee Boyer | March 29, 2016

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

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The Girls of Atomic City is My Grandmother’s Story

By Justina Bachelor | May 7, 2014

Herstory: Women Who Left a Mark Through History

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 11, 2014

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In Our Time
by Ernest Hemingway

A fan of Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, Larson told the New York Times that his “work gave me a new way of thinking about writing—the value of weeding out adjectives and adverbs. He was, above all, a master at the art of not saying.” Pick up In Our Time to explore how Larson’s spare prose has its roots in Hemingway’s signature style.

In Our Time
Ernest Hemingway

A fan of Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, Larson told the New York Times that his “work gave me a new way of thinking about writing—the value of weeding out adjectives and adverbs. He was, above all, a master at the art of not saying.” Pick up In Our Time to explore how Larson’s spare prose has its roots in Hemingway’s signature style.

MENTIONED IN:

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By Julianna Haubner | July 21, 2017

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By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

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Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
by Karen Abbott

Illuminating one of the most fascinating yet little-known aspects of the Civil War—the stories of four courageous women: a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow, who risked everything to become spies—this deeply researched account draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
Karen Abbott

Illuminating one of the most fascinating yet little-known aspects of the Civil War—the stories of four courageous women: a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow, who risked everything to become spies—this deeply researched account draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

Close

The Murder of the Century
by Paul Collins

In 1897, a human torso was discovered in the Lower East Side. In Harlem, neatly severed limbs were found in an overgrown ditch. Clues turned up all over New York, but with no witnesses, no motives, and no suspects. This horrifying and baffling murder mystery of the Gilded Age is the perfect follow-up for fans of The Devil in the White City.

The Murder of the Century
Paul Collins

In 1897, a human torso was discovered in the Lower East Side. In Harlem, neatly severed limbs were found in an overgrown ditch. Clues turned up all over New York, but with no witnesses, no motives, and no suspects. This horrifying and baffling murder mystery of the Gilded Age is the perfect follow-up for fans of The Devil in the White City.

MENTIONED IN:

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By Kerry Fiallo | November 10, 2016

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

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Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power
by Andrew Nagorski

Revisit William Dodd and his infamous daughter, Martha, in this account of Germany’s march into the abyss. Told from the perspective of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, writers, athletes—who witnessed Hitler’s rise to power up close, Hitlerland is a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.

Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power
Andrew Nagorski

Revisit William Dodd and his infamous daughter, Martha, in this account of Germany’s march into the abyss. Told from the perspective of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, writers, athletes—who witnessed Hitler’s rise to power up close, Hitlerland is a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

Close

The Train to Crystal City
by Jan Jarboe Russell

Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history, The Train to Crystal City reveals the never-before-told story of a secret internment camp in Texas where thousands of families—many US citizens—were incarcerated and exchanged for high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan.

The Train to Crystal City
Jan Jarboe Russell

Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history, The Train to Crystal City reveals the never-before-told story of a secret internment camp in Texas where thousands of families—many US citizens—were incarcerated and exchanged for high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

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