About me

Brian J. DistelbergTrained as a historian of twentieth-century U.S. culture and politics, I have worked in book publishing since 2011. I am passionate about helping expert authors to bring serious ideas and innovative research to a general audience.

I work at Basic Books, where I acquire primarily in history. Books I have edited and published include Edward Watts’s Mortal Republic, R. Marie Griffith’s Moral Combat, Sarah Churchwell’s Behold, America, and Christopher Goscha’s Vietnam. Forthcoming titles in history include books by Roderick Beaton, Jefferson Cowie, Philip Dwyer, Robert Harms, Walter Johnson, Erika Lee, Martyn Rady, Manisha Sinha, and Michael Willrich. I also publish a select number of books in law and politics; recent highlights include Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz’s To End a Presidency, Alisa Roth’s Insane, and Alexandra Natapoff’s Punishment Without Crime.

From 2011 through 2015, I worked at Harvard University Press, where I acquired and edited books in history and related fields. Books I edited and published include Elizabeth Hinton’s From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime, a New York Times Notable Book of 2016; Patrick Iber’s Neither Peace nor Freedom, winner of the 2017 Luciano Tomassini Book Prize; Beth Simone Noveck’s Smart Citizens, Smarter State, a TechRepublic Best Tech Book of 2015; Michael Javen Fortner’s Black Silent Majority, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and winner of the Herbert H. Lehman Prize; and Cara Caddoo’s Envisioning Freedom, a Huffington Post Best Film Book of 2015 and winner of the Vincent P. DeSantis Prize.

I received a Ph.D. in history from Yale, where my training focused on twentieth-century U.S. politics and culture. You can read more about my dissertation here. My own writing has been published in GLQ, the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and at The Lazy Scholar, and I have presented my research to audiences at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and meetings of the Organization of American History and the American Society of Church History. I have served as a teaching assistant for courses in African American, gay and lesbian, and twentieth‐century European history.

I am a 2005 graduate of Harvard, where I concentrated in History and Literature. I live and work in New York City.