10 Questions with ‘The Splendid and the Vile’ Author Erik Larson

Author Erik Larson
Author Erik Larson, Photo: Nina Subin

Erik Larson, bestselling author of Dead Wake, The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts, has enjoyed living in Southampton Village since he bought a home next to his sister’s longtime vacation house in 2016. His latest book, The Splendid and the Vile, follows England’s storied prime minister Winston Churchill during his first year in office and his efforts to hold fast and fight at the height of Hitler’s oppressive bombing campaign, best known as the Blitz, during the early days of World War II.

The author sat down with us for an extensive discussion about the book, which is published in another article, but he also agreed to answer our 10 Questions—a set of standard, rapid-fire queries we ask many of our most notable interview subjects. These questions, and Larson’s answers below, reveal a bit more of our new neighbor, who will almost certainly have another bestseller on his hands after The Splendid and the Vile hits shelves on Tuesday, February 25. Find it at your local book shop or order online.

1. Favorite book?
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

2. The last thing that took your breath away?
A storm at sea. My wife and I just this past January made a crossing on the Queen Mary II, and yes that takes your breath away.

3. The last thing that made you cry?
The deadline for this book [The Splendid and the Vile].

4. It’s the eve of your execution… What would be your last meal?
General Tso’s chicken.

5. Something worth fighting for?

6. Something worth giving up?
The Trump Administration.

7. Spend an afternoon with anyone—alive or dead—who would it be?
Cate Blanchett.

8. An interesting object in your home or workspace?
A monkey lamp in my office.

9. Last film you watched?
The Family Stone.

10. Is there a subject you’d like to write about but probably never will?
I’d like to do a detailed narrative about Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, but I’ll never do it because there’s not enough firsthand information.


Cover art for The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
‘The Splendid and the Vile’ by Erik Larson, Courtesy Crown Publishing

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