The Books

The Splendid and
the Vile

A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons (30,000 of them Londoners) and destroying two million homes. It was up to Churchill to hold the country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally–that she was willing to fight to the end.


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Dead Wake

The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

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In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Set in Berlin in 1933-1934, the book tells the story of America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany, William E. Dodd, and his daughter Martha, as they experience the rising terror of Hitler’s rule. At first Martha is enthralled by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich, with their infectious . . .

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Thunderstruck

The saga of how the lives of the inventor of wireless and of Britain’s second most famous murderer (after Jack the Ripper) intersected during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time. The inventor was Guglielmo Marconi, the young Italian genius; the killer was Hawley Harvey Crippen, who murdered his overbearing wife and fled Britain with his mistress, unaware that Scotland Yard was hot on his heels. The book—an instant New York Times bestseller—brings to life a host of forgotten characters, including spirit mediums, ghost-hunting physicists, Scotland Yard inspectors, and one of the great pioneers of forensic science. The climax occurs during a trans-Atlantic chase which, thanks to the miracle of Marconi’s invention, was followed by millions of people around the world—with Crippen and his mistress completely unaware.

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The Devil in the White City

Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

The No. 1 New York Times bestseller about the architect who led the construction of the great Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, and the prolific serial killer who used the fair as a lure. Just blocks from the fairgrounds, the killer built a hotel of horrors equipped with an acid vat, dissection table and crematorium. . . .

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Isaac’s Storm

A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

At the turn of the last century, Isaac Cline, chief weatherman for Texas, believed no storm could do serious harm to the city of Galveston, a fast growing metropolis on the Gulf Coast destined for great things. In September 1900 a massive hurricane proved him wrong, at great personal cost. The storm killed as many . . .

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Lethal Passage

The Story of a Gun

When I lived in Baltimore, I became struck by the frequency of drive-by shootings involving young teens who possessed sophisticated weapons. At the time, no one bothered to find out where the guns came from. I decided to try. The result was this book, which tells the story of how a particular model of handgun, . . .

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The Naked Consumer

How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities

How Our Private Lives Become Public Commodities

After receiving a sudden surge of junk mail directed at new parents—even though my wife at the time was merely pregnant—I set out to explore the lengths companies go to spy on individual consumers. It was fascinating, and a little scary. For example, I discovered one market-research firm that put human spies in stores to follow every move a shopper made, and another company that secretly commandeered viewers’ televisions to show them commercials no one else got to see. The book became the subject of a PBS documentary, “We Know Where You Live,” in which yours truly was the main character. I even got to slink around in a trench coat and lurk behind trees.

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