David Grann

David Grann (born March 10, 1967) is an American journalist, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and a best-selling author.

David Grann
Grann at the 2018 Texas Book Festival
Born (1967-03-10) March 10, 1967
Westport, Connecticut, U.S.
OccupationStaff writer, author, journalist
ResidenceNew York, U.S.
Alma materConnecticut College
Notable worksThe Lost City of Z
Killers of the Flower Moon
Notable awardsThomas J. Watson Fellowship
George Polk Awards
SpouseKyra Darnton (m. 2000)

His first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, was published by Doubleday in February 2009. After its first week of publication, it debuted on The New York Times bestseller list at #4.[1]

Grann's articles have been collected in several anthologies, including What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001, The Best American Crime Writing of 2004 and 2005, and The Best American Sports Writing of 2003 and 2006.[2] He has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Weekly Standard.[2] According to a profile in Slate, Grann has a reputation as a "workhorse reporter", which has made him a popular journalist who "inspires a devotion in readers that can border on the obsessive."[3]

Early life

Grann was born on March 10, 1967 to Phyllis E. Grann and Victor Grann of Westport, Connecticut.[4] Phyllis is the former CEO of Putnam Penguin and the first woman CEO of a major publishing firm.[5] His father Victor is an oncologist and Director of the Bennett Cancer Center in Stamford, Connecticut. Grann has two siblings--Edward and Alison.


Born in New York City, Grann graduated from Connecticut College in 1989 with a B.A. in Government.[6] He received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and conducted research in Mexico, where he began his career as a freelance journalist.[6] He received a master's degree in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1993.[2][7] At that point primarily interested in fiction, Grann hoped to develop a career as a novelist.[8]

His journalism career began after he was hired in 1994 as a copy editor at The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper covering the United States Congress.[2] The same year, he earned a master's degree in creative writing from Boston University,[2][7] where he taught courses in creative writing and fiction.[8] He was named The Hill's executive editor in 1995.[2][6]

In 1996, Grann became a senior editor at The New Republic.[2][7] He joined The New Yorker in 2003 as a staff writer.[2][6] He was a finalist for the Michael Kelly Award in 2005.[9]

In 2009 he received both the George Polk Award and Sigma Delta Chi Award for his New Yorker piece "Trial By Fire", about Cameron Todd Willingham. It has been described as the first thoroughly documented case of the execution of an innocent man under the modern American judicial system.

Another New Yorker investigative article, "The Mark of a Masterpiece", raised questions about the methods of Peter Paul Biro, who claimed to use fingerprints to help authenticate lost masterpieces.[10] Biro sued Grann and The New Yorker for libel,[11][12] but the case was summarily dismissed.[13][14] The article was a finalist for the 2010 National Magazine Award.[15]

The Lost City of Z

Grann's 2009 non-fiction book The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon recounts the odyssey of the notable British explorer, Captain Percy Fawcett who, in 1925, disappeared with his son in the Amazon while looking for the Lost City of Z. For decades, explorers and scientists have tried to find evidence of both his party and the Lost City of Z. Grann also trekked into the Amazon. In his book, he reveals new evidence about how Fawcett died and shows that "Z" may have existed.[16]

The book was optioned by Brad Pitt's Plan B production company and Paramount Pictures.[17] It was adapted into a feature film of the same name and released in the US in 2017.[18]

Other books

An anthology of twelve previously published Grann essays, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, was published in March 2010.

In March 2014, Grann said he was working on a new book about the Osage Indian murders, "one of the most sinister crimes in American history."[19] His book Killers of the Flower Moon: An American Crime and the Birth of the FBI was published in 2017, chronicling "a tale of murder, betrayal, heroism and a nation's struggle to leave its frontier culture behind and enter the modern world."[20] It was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award.[21] The book was acquired for film adaptation by Martin Scorsese in 2017 for possible production in 2020.[22]

Personal life

In 2000 Grann married Kyra Darnton, a television producer and daughter of John Darnton. He has curated the George Polk Awards.[7] The couple has two children. As of 2009 they resided in New York City.[6]




  • The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. Doubleday. 2009.
  • The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession. Doubleday. 2010.
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Doubleday. 2017.
  • The White Darkness. Doubleday. 2018. Based on the New Yorker article of the same name.

Essays and reporting


  1. "Hardcover Non-fiction Bestsellers". The New York Timesdate=March 6, 2009. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
  2. Potts, Rolf and Grann, David. "David Grann." RolfPotts.com. March 2009. Accessed May 26, 2009.
  3. Jonah Weiner (April 11, 2011). "The Storyteller's Storyteller". Slate. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  4. "WEDDINGS; Kyra Darnton, David Grann". The New York Times. July 2, 2000. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  5. Maneker, Marion (January 1, 2001). "Now for the Grann Finale". New York Magazine. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  6. "Contributors: David Grann." The New Yorker. No date. Accessed May 26, 2009.
  7. "Kyra Darnton, David Grann." New York Times. July 2, 2000.
  8. "David Grann on murder, madness and writing for The New Yorker" by Andrea Pitzer, Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, April 5, 2010
  9. Press release: The 2005 Michael Kelly Award, June 6, 2005 Archived July 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  10. "Interview on Art Security Technology" Archived May 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine by Noah Charney, Artinfo International Edition, September 16, 2011
  11. "Art Analyst Sues The New Yorker" by Julia Filip, Courthouse News Service (July 1, 2011) Archived July 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Forensic Art Expert Sues New Yorker – Author Wants $2 million for defamation over David Grann piece" by Dylan Byers, Adweek, June 30, 2011
  13. 11 Civ. 4442 (JPO) Peter Paul Biro v. ... David Grann ..., United States District Court – Southern District of New York
  14. "Art Authenticator Loses Defamation Suit Against the New Yorker, by Albert Samaha, Village Voice blog, August 5, 2013
  15. "Check Out ASME's National Magazine Awards Finalists" by Caroline Stanley, FlavorWire.com, 5 April 2011
  16. Heckenberger, Michael. The Ecology of Power: Culture, Place, and Personhood in the Southern Amazon, A.D. 1000–2000. New York: Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0-415-94598-4;
    Heckenberger, Michael J.; Kuikuro, Afukaka; Kuikuro, Urissapá Tabata; Russell, J. Christian; Schmidt, Morgan; Fausto, Carlos; and Franchetto, Bruna. "Amazonia 1492: Pristine Forest or Cultural Parkland?" Science. April 25, 2003;
    Heckenberger, Michael J. "Manioc Agriculture and Sedentism in Amazonia: The Upper Xingu Example." Antiquity. September 1998.
  17. "Paramount, Brad Pitt Find 'Lost City'", by Tatiana Siegel, Variety. March 31, 2008.
  18. Justin Chang, "James Gray's hauntingly beautiful 'The Lost City of Z' is Charlie Hunnam's finest performance," Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2017.
  19. "I am David Grann". Reddit. March 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2014. And right now I'm working on a new book about an historical mystery. It's about the Osage Indians in Oklahoma. In the 1920s they became the richest people in the world after oil was discovered under their reservation. Then they began to be mysteriously murdered off—poisoned, shot, bombed—in one of the most sinister crimes in American history.
  20. Sean Woods, "'Killers of the Flower Moon': Inside David Grann's New True-Crime Epic," Rolling Stone, April 17, 2017.
  21. "Nationalbook.org" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  22. "Everything We Know About Martin Scorsese And Leonardo DiCaprio's Next Project, 'Killers Of The Flower Moon'". Esquire. July 17, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  23. The murders of Khalil Musa, Marjorie Musa and Rodrigo Rosenberg.
  24. Henry Worsley, polar explorer. Online version is titled "The white darkness : a journey across Antarctica".
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