Erik Larson was born on January 3, 1954 in Freeport, Long Island. He studied Russian history at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated summa cum laude in 1976. After a year off, he attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, graduating in 1978. His first newspaper job was with The Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where he wrote about murder, witches, and environmental poisons. He is a former features writer for The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine, where he is still a contributing writer. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harpers, and other publications. He is the author of Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun and The Naked Consumer: How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities . He has also written Isaacs Storm , about the experiences of Isaac Cline during the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, about the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and a series of murders by H. H. Holmes that were committed in the city around the time of the Fair, and Thunderstruck, which intersperses the story of Hawley Harvey Crippen with the story of Guglielmo Marconi and the invention of radio. Larson has taught non-fiction writing at San Francisco State, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and the University of Oregon, and has spoken to audiences from coast to coast.