Bestselling author Erik Larson specializes in tales of individuals living through 20th century history. If he’s not depicting a diplomatic family in Berlin during Hitler’s rise – In the Garden of Beasts – he sets the inventor of the “wireless,” Guglielmo Marconi, against an ocean-wide manhunt for a murderer in Thunderstruck. Or he evokes history through multiple intensely researched portraits, as in Dead Wake – his depiction of the sinking of the Lusitania in World War I. Larson writes with great narrative drive, as in The Devil in the White City.
He uses social interactions – not recitations of facts – to bring to life the idiosyncrasies of each age, like the depiction of life in Galveston in 1900 in Isaac’s Storm. At times, the author seems at a disadvantage here because Winston Churchill’s story is well-known, but Larson’s sense of telling detail makes this a fascinating read.