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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Mar 16, 2022

Bestselling author Erik Larson is widely known for masterful works of narrative nonfiction, and has a particular penchant for drawing a certain richness from historical snapshots — the kinds of topics typically relegated to the footnotes of conventional history books. In a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Larson said, “My mission is to try to create as rich a historical experience as I can for the reader, so that when they’re done with the book, they come out of it feeling like maybe they lived briefly in a past time.” In his latest nonfiction title, #1 New York Times bestseller The Splendid and the Vile, Larson added rich layers to a pivotal point in world history and inserted readers into the public and personal life of Winston Churchill during WWII.

Churchill faced colossal challenges from the very start: on his first day as prime minister of the U.K., Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium; not long after, Hitler’s bombing campaigns destroyed millions of homes and took tens of thousands of lives. How did Churchill not only keep his country together but also forge key alliances to ensure victory? In The Splendid and the Vile, Larson dove into previously untapped sources — including recently declassified files, intelligence reports, and personal diaries — and offered a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill, his family, and his circle of advisors.

Joined by books writer Mary Ann Gwinn, Larson discussed how Churchill’s persevering leadership bound a country, and a family, together.

Erik Larson is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. Erik’s The Devil in the White City is set to be a Hulu limited series; his In the Garden of Beasts is under option by Tom Hanks, for a feature film. He recently published an audio-original ghost story, No One Goes Alone, which has been optioned by Netflix. Erik lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is a writer and retired neonatologist; they have three grown daughters.

Mary Ann Gwinn writes about books and authors for Kirkus ReviewsThe Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Times, and other publications. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, she was the book editor of the Seattle Times from 1998 to 2017 and a judge for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. She’s a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Buy the Book: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz (Paperback) from Elliott Bay Books

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