|Erik Larson has written nonfiction books on a variety of topics, but he is probably best known for his 2003 book, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which contained parallel stories about the architect who oversaw the design of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and a ruthless serial killer who stalked the city during that time. Larson was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. After earning a bachelor's degree in Russian studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1976, he began working as an editorial assistant at a New York City publishing company. Upon seeing the film ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, Larson was inspired to earn a master's degree at the Columbia School of Journalism, and his subsequent career as a reporter included stints at the Wall Street Journal and Time. In 1992 his first book, NAKED CONSUMER: HOW OUR PRIVATE LIVES BECAME PUBLIC COMMODITIES, was published. Although it was used as the basis for a PBS documentary, NAKED CONSUMER gained little critical or commercial notice for Larson. That changed after the publication of THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which spent more than three years on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestseller lists. Larson had been moved to combine the tale of H.H. Holmes, the serial killer, with that of the World's Fair because of the compelling contrast between the two topics. "This massive act of civic good will and literally in the same place, at the same time, was the opposite. . . . That's what lured me," he has explained. "In fact, I would not have been interested in just doing a book about the Fair. Nor would I have been interested in doing a book just about Holmes. But together . . . That I found kind of magical."