Adam Goodheart

Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center For The Study Of The American Experience

An historian, journalist, and critic, Adam Goodheart is the author of The New York Times bestselling book 1861: The Civil War Awakening, published by Alfred A. Knopf in April 2011 to widespread critical acclaim.

1861 presents a sweeping portrayal of America at a moment of crisis and change. A cover review in the New York Times Book Review called it “exhilarating,” “inspiring,” and “irresistible,” adding, “1861 creates the uncanny illusion that the reader has stepped into a time machine.” The Boston Globe’s reviewer wrote: “Hardly a page of this book lacks an insight of importance or a fact that beguiles the reader.” Advance excerpts of the book appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the American Scholar, Washingtonian, and elsewhere, and it was a Main Selection of both the History Book Club and the Military Book Club.

Goodheart’s writing often deals with the intersection of the present and the past. A 1992 graduate of Harvard, he was a founder and senior editor of Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in its first year of publication. He has contributed frequent essays and reviews to the New York Times (where he also served as deputy editor of the Op-Ed page), National Geographic, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, the American Scholar, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is a regular writer for the New York Times’ acclaimed online Civil War series, “Disunion.” Goodheart’s travel writing has appeared in Outside, GQ, Conde Nast Traveler, and other magazines. Among the prizes his work has received are the Lowell Thomas Award of the Society of American Travel Writers (2004), the Henry Lawson Award for Travel Writing (2005), and the A.D. Emmart Award for excellence in the humanities (2007); his essays have appeared in numerous anthologies, including multiple editions of the Norton Reader.

Among other current projects, Goodheart is the director of the American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series at the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 2008. He is co-director of the Poplar Grove Project, which has conserved and archived some 30,000 pages of historic documents dating from the 17th through the 20th centuries, in partnership with the Maryland State Archives. He is a member of the boards of directors of a number of cultural organizations, including the Maryland Humanities Council (where he chairs the grants committee), and is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society.

Goodheart has given public talks at the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the National Constitution Center, the New-York Historical Society, the National Geographic Society, and the Museum of the City of New York, among many other venues. He will be a keynote speaker at the 2011 annual meetings of the American Association for State and Local History and the Society for History in the Federal Government. He makes frequent broadcast media appearances, including on CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio (“Fresh Air,” “All Things Considered,” “Morning Edition,” “Studio 360”).

At Washington College, Goodheart is the director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, an institute for fostering innovative approaches to history and culture through a range of writing fellowships, prizes, public events, teacher seminars, and student programs. He has taught courses at the College in American Studies, English, History, Anthropology, and Art. The book 1861 was inspired in part by a trove of historic letters that Goodheart and his undergraduate students uncovered in a 250-year old plantation house near Chestertown.



Lecturer in History and American Studies

Phone: (800) 422-1782, ext. 7166
Office: The Custom House

Mailing address:
The Custom House
101 S. Water Street
Chestertown, MD 21620


  • B.A., Harvard University, 1992

Recent Articles And Media Appearances

Interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” April 12, 2011:

Interview with Kurt Andersen on NPR’s “Studio 360,” April 8, 2011:

Interview with, April 15, 2011:

“How Slavery Really Ended in America,” New York Times Magazine, April 3, 2011

“Civil Warfare in the Streets,” American Scholar, Spring 2011

“Washington in 1861: The New Dawn of Our Nation’s Capital,” Washingtonian, March 2011

“Disunion” columns, New York Times online, November 2010 to the present

Upcoming Readings, Lectures, And Public Events