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Biography

I'm the author of The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World (Faber & Faber, 1998; North Point Press, 1999) and The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I (NYU Press, 2004).You can read more about these books by clicking on the page above marked "Works." I also give lectures on both topics; please see the column at right.

The Rape of Belgium was an alternate selection of the History Book Club and made the short list for the Tomlinson Prize, given by the Western Front Association for the best book of the year on the First World War. I was a featured guest at the Antwerp Book Fair to promote the Dutch-language translation. I've never felt so rewarded as an author, seeing how grateful the Belgians were that I'd recounted an episode in their nation's history that usually gets overlooked.

A little more about Potato. When the book first came out, I appeared on a dozen broadcasts with National Public Radio, including "Morning Edition" with Renee Montagne. Later, I did a stint on camera as a historical consultant for the PBS documentary about potato blight, Hot Potatoes. I contributed the article on the potato for the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World and was interviewed by The History Channel for a program in its "Modern Marvels" series. The Potato has been translated into six languages, most recently German.

Published in Britain under the title The Potato: How It Changed History (Macmillan, 1999; Pan, 2000), the book won the André Simon Special Commendation Award, given annually to a book about food. That was a great honor, not least because previous winners of the Andre Simon Award include Claudia Roden, whose book of Jewish cooking from around the world has a special place in my kitchen. But I also smile whenever I think of a radio interview with a station in county Clare, Ireland, when the interviewer, whose accent was pure poetry, said, "Now, about those spuds, Larry--give us the real scoop."

Recently, I've turned to book reviewing in my new blog, different from the one on this site. I invite you to visit at Novelhistorian.

I live in Seattle with my wife and younger son, who's now in college. This fall (2018), my work-in-progress novel, Exposure, gained me entry to an artists' residency at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, in Saratoga, Wyoming. I had the time of my writing life there amid beautiful scenery and congenial company.




Dawn breaks over Brush Creek Ranch.