John Staufferis Chair of the History of American Civilization and Professor of English and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Among the leading scholars of the Civil War era, antislavery in particular, he is the author or editor of eight books and more than 50 articles. His most recent books are GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (Twelve Publishers, 2008), which was a Boston Globe and Amazon.com bestseller, a History Book Club featured selection, and the winner of the Iowa Writers Award and a Boston Book Club prize; and The State of Jones (Doubleday, 2009), co-authored with Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, which was a New York Times bestseller and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
His other books include The Writings of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist (2006), which features the work of the foremost black intellectual in the nineteenth century; The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Freedom, and the Ambiguities of American Reform (with Steven Mintz, 2006); Meteor of War: The John Brown Story (with Zoe Trodd); and The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002), a collective biography of black and white abolitionists that won four major awards, including the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, the Avery Craven Book Prize, and the Lincoln Prize runner-up.
His essays have appeared in Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Republic, Huffington Post, Raritan, New York Sun, and 21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography. He has appeared on national radio and television shows, including the Diane Rehm Show and Book TV with Susan Swain, and he has lectured widely throughout the United States and Europe.
He is currently an advisor for The American Experience at WGBH, which is working on a documentary film on abolitionism that features Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. He has advised other documentary filmmakers on Civil War era films, and also served as a consultant to the filmmaker Gary Rossfor a screenplay on Southern Unionism in Civil War era Mississippi. Ross, whose screenwriting and directing credits include Seabiscuit, Dave, Big, Pleasantville, andThe Tale of Desperaux, plans to direct and produce The State of Jones as a major motion picture in the next few years.
John received his M.A. from Purdue University in 1993 and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1999, when he began teaching at Harvard. He received tenure in 2004. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife, Deborah Cunningham, and their two sons, Erik Isaiah and Nicholas Daniel.