“No book could be more timely than Jonathan Eig’s sweeping and majestic new King . . . Eig has created 2023′s most vital tome.” ― Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jonathan Eig is the bestselling author of six books, including his most recent King: A Life, which was awarded the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Eig’s King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.―and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself. He casts fresh light on the King family’s origins as well as MLK’s complex relationships with his wife, father, and fellow activists. King reveals a minister wrestling with his own human frailties and dark moods, a citizen hunted by his own government, and a man determined to fight for justice even if it proved to be a fight to the death. As he follows MLK from the classroom to the pulpit to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, Eig dramatically re-creates the journey of a man who recast American race relations and became our only modern-day founding father―as well as the nation’s most mourned martyr.

Jonathan’s previous book, Ali: A Life, won a 2018 PEN America Literary Award and was a finalist for the Mark Lynton History Prize. His works have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He served as consulting producer for the PBS series “Muhammad Ali,” which was directed by Ken Burns. Esquire magazine named Ali: A Life one of the 25 greatest biographies of all time. Joyce Carol Oates called it “an epic of a biography” that “reads like a novel.”

Jonathan’s first book, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, reached No. 10 on the New York Times bestseller list and won the Casey Award. His books have been listed among the best of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. His fourth book, The Birth of the Pill, will be staged soon as a theatrical production by TimeLine Theatre in Chicago.

Jonathan began his writing career at age 16, working for his hometown newspaper, The Rockland County (N.Y.) Journal News, studied journalism at Northwestern University, and went on to work as a reporter for The New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Dallas Morning News, Chicago Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.

He’s appeared on the Today Show, NPR’s Fresh Air, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. But his greatest claim to fame, according to his parents, is that his name once appeared in a Jeopardy question (which was solved correctly for $200). He lives in Chicago with his wife and children and shares office space with the laundry machines.

Jonathan's Featured Titles

King: A Life

Farrar, Straus and Giroux |
Biography

Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.―and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself. He casts fresh light on the King family’s origins as well as MLK’s complex relationships with his wife, father, and fellow activists. King reveals a minister wrestling with his own human frailties and dark moods, a citizen hunted by his own government, and a man determined to fight for justice even if it proved to be a fight to the death. As he follows MLK from the classroom to the pulpit to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, Eig dramatically re-creates the journey of a man who recast American race relations and became our only modern-day founding father―as well as the nation’s most mourned martyr.

In this landmark biography, Eig gives us an MLK for our times: a deep thinker, a brilliant strategist, and a committed radical who led one of history’s greatest movements, and whose demands for racial and economic justice remain as urgent today as they were in his lifetime.

Ali: A Life

Mariner Books |
Biography

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay in racially segregated Louisville, Kentucky, the son of a sign painter and a housekeeper. He went on to become a heavyweight boxer with a dazzling mix of power and speed, a warrior for racial pride, a comedian, a preacher, a poet, a draft resister, an actor, and a lover. Millions hated him when he changed his religion, changed his name, and refused to fight in the Vietnam War. He fought his way back, winning hearts, but at great cost.

Jonathan Eig, hailed by Ken Burns as one of America’s master storytellers, sheds important new light on Ali’s politics, religion, personal life, and neurological condition through unprecedented access to all the key people in Ali’s life, more than 500 interviews and thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files and audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. Ali: A Life is a story about America, about race, about a brutal sport, and about a courageous man who shook up the world.

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution

W. W. Norton & Company |
Biography

The fascinating story of one of the most important scientific discoveries of the twentieth century.

We know it simply as “the pill,” yet its genesis was anything but simple. Jonathan Eig’s masterful narrative revolves around four principal characters: the fiery feminist Margaret Sanger, who was a champion of birth control in her campaign for the rights of women but neglected her own children in pursuit of free love; the beautiful Katharine McCormick, who owed her fortune to her wealthy husband, the son of the founder of International Harvester and a schizophrenic; the visionary scientist Gregory Pincus, who was dismissed by Harvard in the 1930s as a result of his experimentation with in vitro fertilization but who, after he was approached by Sanger and McCormick, grew obsessed with the idea of inventing a drug that could stop ovulation; and the telegenic John Rock, a Catholic doctor from Boston who battled his own church to become an enormously effective advocate in the effort to win public approval for the drug that would be marketed by Searle as Enovid.

Spanning the years from Sanger’s heady Greenwich Village days in the early twentieth century to trial tests in Puerto Rico in the 1950s to the cusp of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, this is a grand story of radical feminist politics, scientific ingenuity, establishment opposition, and, ultimately, a sea change in social attitudes. Brilliantly researched and briskly written, The Birth of the Pill is gripping social, cultural, and scientific history.

Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America’s Most Wanted Gangster

Simon & Schuster |
Biography

The real story of how the federal government finally apprehended and convicted America’s most notorious criminal, Al Capone.

Drawing on recently discovered government documents, wiretap transcripts, and Al Capone’s handwritten personal letters, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Eig tells the dramatic story of the rise and fall of the nation’s most infamous criminal in rich new detail.

From the moment he arrived in Chicago in 1920, Capone found himself in a world with limitless opportunity. Within a few years Capone controlled an illegal bootlegging business with annual revenue rivaling that of some of the nation’s largest corporations. Along the way he corrupted the Chicago police force and local courts while becoming one of the world’s first international celebrities. Legend credits Eliot Ness and his “Untouchables” with apprehending Capone, but Eig shows that this wasn’t so. In Get Capone, the man known as “Scarface” emerges as a complex man, doomed as much by his ego as by his vicious criminality. This is the real Al Capone.

Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season

Simon & Schuster |
Biography

A chronicle of the 1947 baseball season during which Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier is a sixtieth anniversary tribute based on interviews with Robinson’s wife, daughter, and teammates that covers such topics as his relationship with fellow players, the St. Louis Cardinals’ proposed boycott of the Dodgers, and Robinson’s associate with segregated hotel roommate and sportswriter Wendell Smith. 125,000 first printing.

Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig

Simon & Schuster |
Biography

The definitive account of the life and tragic death of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig was a baseball legend—the Iron Horse, the stoic New York Yankee who was the greatest first baseman in history, a man whose consecutive-games streak was ended by a horrible disease that now bears his name. But as this definitive new biography makes clear, Gehrig’s life was more complicated—and, perhaps, even more heroic—than anyone really knew.

Drawing on new interviews and more than two hundred pages of previously unpublished letters to and from Gehrig, Luckiest Man gives us an intimate portrait of the man who became an American hero: his life as a shy and awkward youth growing up in New York City, his unlikely friendship with Babe Ruth (a friendship that allegedly ended over rumors that Ruth had had an affair with Gehrig’s wife), and his stellar career with the Yankees, where his consecutive-games streak stood for more than half a century. What was not previously known, however, is that symptoms of Gehrig’s affliction began appearing in 1938, earlier than is commonly acknowledged. Later, aware that he was dying, Gehrig exhibited a perseverance that was truly inspiring; he lived the last two years of his short life with the same grace and dignity with which he gave his now-famous “luckiest man” speech.

Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Jonathan Eig’s Luckiest Man shows us one of the greatest baseball players of all time as we’ve never seen him before.

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Beyond The Dream: Embracing a More Complicated Martin Luther King Jr.

In hallowing Martin Luther King Jr., we have hollowed him. We have replaced his radical vision for justice with a romantic image of a man who stands for little more than love and peace. For the past seven years, Jonathan Eig has traveled across the country, meeting the people who knew King personally, recording their stories, and learning about the real MLK — the complicated one, the flawed one, the radical one, the one we really need in today’s bitter, divided world.

If we listen to the real King, he can still teach us:
–Yes, it’s possible to a radical and win the support of the mainstream and the political establishment.
–A flawed man can live his by the high moral standards and devote himself to the common good.
–It is possible to engage in dialogue (and even love) our enemies.
–Income inequality is not a requirement of capitalism.

Though we live in an age cynicism, of division, King believed we would get to the Promised Land. If we listen to his words, if we embrace his message, and if we accept his contradictions, we might get there yet.

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How I Learned to Love Sports and History (In That Order)

Throughout American history, sporting events have helped unify and shape the nation. But we often overlook the impact of sports on our comprehension of American history.

In this personal reflection, Jonathan Eig describes how his obsession with sports led to his fascination with history, and how a kid who once wanted only to play center field for the Yankees became one of the nation’s leading writers of historical biographies that transcend sports.

Eig will explain how his groundbreaking biography of Lou Gehrig changed our understanding of an American hero; how he earned the trust of Jackie Robinson’s wife in writing an intimate portrait of Robinson’s first season in major-league baseball; and how his childhood love for Muhammad Ali helped him begin to understand race in America.

As he ties it all together, Eig illustrates the manner in which athletic competition has served as a force for justice and equality, how all the subjects of his books — Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Al Capone, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, and…yes, even the birth-control pill — have a connection through sports.

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A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew Walk into a Bar

How did a Jewish journalist end up writing the definitive biographies of America’s most famous Muslim (Muhammad Ali) and its most famous Christian (Martin Luther King Jr.)?

Jonathan describes how Ali and King helped shape his own spiritual and religious journey.

What does it mean to believe? How do you apply your religious beliefs in the secular world? And what does one do when the religious and secular world’s conflict?

What moral lessons can we all learn from the religious journeys of Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King?

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Honors, Awards & Recognition

2024 King: A Life awarded the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
2024 King: A Life awarded the American History Prize
2023 King: A Life hits No. 7 on the New York Times best seller list
2018 New York Times Notable Book, for Ali: A Life
2018 Plutarch Award, best biography, finalist, Ali: A Life
2018 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, Literary Sports Writing, winner for Ali: A Life
2018 The Times Biography of the Year], Sports Book Awards, London, for Ali: A Life
2018 Sports Book of the Year, British Sports Book Awards, for Ali: A Life
2017 Ali: A Life makes the New York Times best seller list
2017 NAACP Image Awards, finalist, Ali: A Life
2017 William Hill Sports Book of the Year, best sports book, finalist, Ali: A Life
2015 Society of Midland Authors, non-fiction book of the year, The Birth of the Pill
2014 Washington Post “Best Books of the Year” for The Birth of the Pill
2007 Opening Day makes the New York Times Best Seller List
2005 Luckiest Man reaches No. 10 on the New York Times Best Seller List
2005 Casey Award for best baseball book of the year, Luckiest Man

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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