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I've been a freelance journalist for 40 years. My current project is a book for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt about Joseph C. Grew, United States ambassador to Japan from 1932 to 1942. In 2019 the National Endowment for the Humanities gave me a grant through its Public Scholar Program to support the research and writing.


My most recent book, A Splendid Savage: the Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham (W. W. Norton, 2016), is the biography of a man once world-famous as "the American scout."

My previous book, A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa (W. W. Norton, 2012), is about Heinrich Barth, one of Africa's greatest explorers yet nearly forgotten today. The book is a nonfiction historical adventure that recreates Barth’s incredible five-year, 10,000 mile journey in the 1850s. The Boston Globe named Labyrinth one of the best nonfiction books of 2012.

My first book, Code Name Ginger: the Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World (Harvard Business School Press, 2003), was selected by Barnes & Noble for its Discover Great New Writers award. Harper published the paperback under the title Reinventing the Wheel: a Story of Genius, Innovation, and Grand Ambition.


Other credits: Smithsonian, National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Wall Street Journal, Yankee, National Wildlife, The Ecologist, Plenty, BBC Wildlife, and many other magazines and newspapers.

I have been an adjunct professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and also taught writing and journalism at Fairfield University.

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. After graduating from the University of Detroit, I taught literature and writing at the University of Connecticut while earning a Ph.D. I've received several awards for my work, as well as a grant from the W. Alton Jones Foundation for an environmental investigation in Bolivia.

I live in West Hartford, Connecticut, with my wife Judith Kaufman, a studio goldsmith.