David Grann is an award-winning New Yorker writer and the bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Wager. Revered for nonfiction that jumps off the page, Grann doesn’t just write about incredible people—he walks in their shoes. Whether crossing the ocean or trekking through the Amazon, Grann digs deep to give his stories a pace and intensity unlike any other. In his talks, Grann explores his creative process—from what initially inspires him to investigate a story to his painstaking research and then links the (often) forgotten histories to their relevance to today.
His latest book, The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder is a page-turning story of shipwreck, survival, and savagery, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth. With the twists and turns of a thriller Grann unearths the deeper meaning of the events on the HMS Wager, showing that it was not only the captain and crew who ended up on trial, but the very idea of empire. The Wager debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and has remained on the list ever since, often in the top spot.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, is a true-crime tale that unravels one of the most sinister crimes and racial injustices in American history. With over 100 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list, it was a finalist for the National Book Award and ranked #1 on both Shelf Awareness and Amazon’s Single Best Books of the Year. Now Read This, the joint book club between PBS NewsHour and New York Times, selected Killers of the Flower Moon for their February 2018 read. Following a highly publicized bidding war for the film rights, Killers of the Flower Moon debuted at Cannes in 2023, with Martin Scorsese as director and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. The news of the movie combined with the popularity of The Wager brought Killers back to the New York Times bestseller list.
Known as “the man Hollywood can’t stop reading,” Grann breathes new life into historical events, gifting his readers factually accurate tales that read like a thrilling work of fiction and that are ripe for adaptation. In addition to the box office success Killers of the Flower Moon, Grann’s New Yorker articles “The Old Man & the Gun” and “Trial by Fire,” as well as his bestselling book The Lost City of Z have been adapted for the big screen. The White Darkness is being produced for Apple TV+ as a limited series starring Tom Hiddleston. Rights to The Wager were acquired prior to the book’s release, with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio reuniting as director and leading man.
In 2023, Barnes & Noble named Grann their inaugural Author of the Year in recognition of his impressive body of work and longtime adoration by booksellers around the country. “A master of nonfiction, much of it based in first-person reportage and archival digging, Grann uses our history as a mirror to entertain us, make us think, and show us who we are now,” writes the Barnes & Noble team in the awarding of this honor.
The Art of Storytelling: Bringing True Tales to Life
David Grann has been called the “Master of Nonfiction” for his process of obsessive research — from tracing the footsteps of a lost explorer in the Amazon to documenting the systematic murder of the Osage Indians in one of the worst racial injustices in American history. With six of his works turned into major motion pictures, Entertainment Weekly has called Grann “the man Hollywood can’t stop reading.” In this customizable speech or masterclass, Grann uses the same storytelling abilities to take audiences behind-the-scenes and illuminate how his tales are constructed — from the initial creative spark and the intense investigative reporting to putting words on the page and the famous fact-checking system at the New Yorker. Grann also illustrates why, in an age in which the truth is under assault, reported stories are so essential to understanding who we are.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Arc of Justice
In this lecture, David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon, illuminates how the struggle for Native American rights extends from the first contact with whites to the present day. Grann highlights the saga of the Osage Indians, who once controlled the central part of the country. After being driven onto a rocky, presumably worthless reservation in Oklahoma, they discovered oil under their land and became the wealthiest people per capita in the world. Then, in the 1920s, they began to be mysteriously murdered. Grann documents how one of the most sinister crimes in American history connects to Native Americans’ current fight to control their land and resources.
How History Talks: Stories that Won't Be Silenced
In this spellbinding lecture, investigative historian David Grann illuminates how long-buried histories can come to life. He draws on his years of researching Killers of the Flower Moon, which documented the erasure of one of the worst racial injustices in American history — the systematic murder of the Osage Indians in Oklahoma for their oil money during the early twentieth century. He also interweaves lessons from his latest masterful work, The Wager, about how the crew of an eighteenth-century naval warship became shipwrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia and gradually descended into a state of depravity. There were warring factions, mutiny, murders, and cannibalism, undercutting the myth of the British Empire. After several survivors returned to England, they were summoned to face a court-martial. They had to tell a convincing tale — or they could be hanged. As in The Wager and Killers of the Flower Moon, Grann highlights how powerful forces often whitewash uncomfortable truths. Yet, from moldering documents and oral histories, these truths can still eventually emerge to tell a powerful story — and awaken our conscience.