David Epstein is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and of the New York Times best seller The Sports Gene, both of which have been translated into more than 20 languages. (To his surprise, the latter was purchased not only by his sister but also by President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.)
He was previously the host of Slate‘s popular “How To!” podcast, and a science and investigative reporter at ProPublica. Prior to that, he was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he co-authored the story that revealed Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had used steroids. His writing has been honored by an array of organizations, from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, to the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Center on Disability and Journalism, and has been included in the Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology. His story “Following the Trail of Broken Hearts,” on sudden cardiac death in athletes, was chosen as one of the top 100 stories of the last 100 years by Columbia Journalism alumni.
David has given talks about performance science and the uses (and misuses) of data on five continents; his TED Talks (here and here) have been viewed more than 11 million times. Three of his stories have been optioned for films: a Sports Illustrated story on the only living Olympian to have survived a concentration camp; an Atlantic/ProPublica piece detailing the DEA’s fraught pursuit of Chapo Guzman’s rivals; and a 2016 “This American Life” episode he wrote and narrated about a woman with two rare diseases who shares a mutant gene with an Olympic medalist.
David has master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism, and is reasonably sure he’s the only person to have co-authored a paper in the journal of Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research while a writer at Sports Illustrated. (Like many of the characters in Range, he has benefitted from a winding career.) He has worked as an ecology researcher in the Arctic, studied geology and astronomy while residing in the Sonoran Desert, and blithely signed up to work on the D-deck of a seismic research vessel shortly after it had been attacked by pirates.
David has enjoyed volunteering with the Pat Tillman Foundation and Classroom Champions, and he is currently on the board of directors of Jubilee JumpStart, an early childhood education center focused on families with the least access. An avid runner, he was a Columbia University record holder and twice NCAA All-East as an 800-meter runner.