About Neil Swidey

Neil Swidey is a narrative nonfiction author and journalist. His most recent book, Trapped Under the Sea, was a No. 1 Boston Globe bestseller that was named one of the best books of 2014 by Amazon and Booklist. His first book, The Assist, was a Boston Globe bestseller that was named one of the best books of 2008 by the Washington Post. He was also a coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, which led to his assignment as on-air contributing analyst for NBC News, focusing on Kennedy coverage.

A staff writer for the Boston Globe Magazine, Neil writes about a wide range of topics and subcultures. (Put another way: He has trouble sticking with a beat.) His work has been featured in The Best American Science Writing, The Best American Crime Writing, The Best American Crime Reporting, and The Best American Political Writing. He’s been a seven-time winner of the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, a four-time winner of the National Headliner Award, an Emmy Award nominee (New England), and a finalist for the National Magazine Award.

But his biggest reward is getting to follow his reporting curiosity wherever it leads him, from medicine to technology, public policy to popular culture, bizarre crime to epic feuds. He has written about the burdens of success and immersed himself in a variety of subcultures, exploring everything from the love lives of residents in retirement communities to the motivations of people who fake food allergies. He has a fondness for weird mysteries, like how the rivalry between New York and Boston got so toxic and why the deepest roots of gun manufacturing in this country are in its bluest states. He has profiled celebrities, pro athletes, and presidential candidates, but he specializes in writing about people who exist without publicists or entourages.

He and a colleague were the first reporters in the world to interview Osama bin Laden’s family in the weeks after the September 11th attacks. He wrote extensively about the history, culture and politics of the Middle East in the run-up to the Iraq war and wrote more recently about its aftermath. Still, the story he tends to get asked about most is the one he unearthed involving Mitt Romney's drive from Boston to Canada with his dog Seamus in a carrier strapped to the station wagon roof.

A native of Somerset, Mass. and a graduate of Tufts University, Neil grew up in a big, close-knit family. He has previously taught multimedia journalism at Tufts and is now a lecturer in journalism at Brandeis University. His first job after college was as founding editor of the Woburn (Mass.) Advocate, and he worked as an editor and newsroom manager for several newspapers before shifting to writing full time. As an outgrowth of his first book, he founded the Alray Scholars Program, a mentoring and scholarship nonprofit that helps give Boston students a second chance at earning a college degree. This volunteer work has, in turn, given him a deeper understanding of issues around debt, higher education, and income inequality.

Neil lives outside Boston with his wife, Denise, who is a chef and television producer, and their three daughters.

Speaking Inquires:

Neil Swidey engages audiences with powerful, widely applicable lessons that emerged from the five years of research he invested in his acclaimed book Trapped Under the Sea. He has spoken to a variety of groups, from construction foremen and civil engineers to risk managers and biotech researchers. At the center of his presentation is an examination of the forces that allow very smart people to make very bad decisions, and how those bad decisions can cascade into life-threatening situations for workers on the front lines.

Interested in having Neil speak to your group?  Contact Kathryn Santora at the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau (212)-572-2013 or ksantora[at]penguin​randomhouse.com.

Literary agent: Sarah Chalfant, The Wylie Agency 250 West 57th Street, Suite 2114. New York, NY 10107 (212) 246-0069 www.wylieagency.com.