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Poster for Harvard Book Store Presents Erik Larson

Harvard Book Store Presents Erik Larson

Coming on May 22

Run Time: 90 min.

Harvard Book Store Presents:

Erik Larson


The Demon of Unrest:
A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak,
and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War

in conversation with EMIKO TAMAGAWA

Harvard Book Store welcomes ERIK LARSON—national bestselling author of The Devil in the White City, The Splendid and the Vile, and In the Garden of Beasts—for a discussion of his new book The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War. He will be joined in conversation by EMIKO TAMAGAWA—senior producer for NPR’s Here and Now.


Tickets include admission for one and one hardcover copy of The Demon of Unrest, pre-signed by the author.

About The Demon of Unrest

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the fluky victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds; Southern extremists were moving ever closer to destroying the Union, with one state after another seceding and Lincoln powerless to stop them. Slavery fueled the conflict, but somehow the passions of North and South came to focus on a lonely federal fortress in Charleston Harbor: Fort Sumter.

Master storyteller Erik Larson offers a gripping account of the chaotic months between Lincoln’s election and the Confederacy’s shelling of Sumter—a period marked by tragic errors and miscommunications, enflamed egos and craven ambitions, personal tragedies and betrayals. Lincoln himself wrote that the trials of these five months were “so great that, could I have anticipated them, I would not have believed it possible to survive them.”

At the heart of this suspense-filled narrative are Major Robert Anderson, Sumter’s commander and a former slave owner sympathetic to the South but loyal to the Union; Edmund Ruffin, a vain and bloodthirsty radical who stirs secessionist ardor at every opportunity; and Mary Boykin Chesnut, wife of a prominent planter, conflicted over both marriage and slavery and seeing parallels between both. In the middle of it all is the overwhelmed Lincoln, battling with his duplicitous Secretary of State, William Seward, as he tries desperately to avert a war that he fears is inevitable—one that will eventually kill 750,000 Americans.

Drawing on diaries, secret communiques, slave ledgers, and plantation records, Larson gives us a political horror story that captures the forces that led America to the brink—a dark reminder that we often don’t see a cataclysm coming until it’s too late.

Praise for The Splendid and the Vile

“Fresh, fast and deeply moving.”—Candice Millard, The New York Times Book Review

“An enthralling page-turner.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“[An] affecting and affectionate chronicle of the Churchill family during the Blitz.”—The Boston Globe

“A damn good story. There are narrative arcs, heroes, villains, and suspense aplenty.”—Rolling Stone

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Emiko Tamagawa

Emiko Tamagawa produces arts and culture segments for Here & Now. She studied psychology and drama at Yale and Brandeis, and toured colleges and high schools with her one-woman show about the Japanese-American internment before turning to radio.

Erik Larson

Erik Larson is the author of six national bestsellers—The Splendid and the Vile, Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm—which have collectively sold more than twelve million copies. His books have been published in nearly forty countries.

Photo Credit: Nina Subin

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