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Author Erik Larson Discusses Churchill’s Darkest Year at Smithsonian Associates Event


Smithsonian Associates will present an evening with author Erik Larson, Monday, March 16, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Larson will detail his extensive research for his newest book, The Splendid and the Vile, and his insights into how, in the face of unrelenting horror, Winston Churchill’s eloquence, courage and perseverance bound a country together.

Larson, the author of New York Times bestsellers The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts, creates a vivid portrait of London and Churchill during the Blitz, detailing how the prime minister taught the British people “the art of being fearless.”

On Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next 12 months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to unite his country and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end.

Drawing on diaries, original archival documents and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson offers a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill, his family and his cadre of close advisors.

Ticket prices for the Smithsonian Associates’ presentation are $40. All general admission tickets include the featured book. For information, the public may call (202) 633-3030 or visit

For more than 50 years, Smithsonian Associates—the largest museum-based education program in the world—has produced vibrant educational and cultural programming that brings the Smithsonian to life. Inspired by the Smithsonian’s research, collections and exhibitions, nearly 1,000 public programs spark creativity and excite learning in people of all ages each year.

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