In Tom Shachtman's early adulthood he worked at CBS News for three years, learning the documentary craft on a wonderful series, The 21st Century, and then as Assistant Chief of the TV division of the National Geographic Society. After that he made documentaries for networks, local stations, syndicators, and other outlets, working as writer, and often as writer-producer-director. His best-known work was a trilogy of one-hour films: Children of Poverty, Children of Trouble, and Children of Violence. These won top prizes at San Francisco, New York International, and other festivals. His films have also won a half-dozen New York area Emmys, and been shown at the White House and in Congress.
Shachtman's first book, The Day America Crashed, was published in 1979, and since then he written nearly three dozen others. Currently he is working on a new one, The Science of the Founding Fathers, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan. Research on this book is being partly underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
His best-known recent book is Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish.
His book, Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold became the basis for a two-hour documentary special for BBC and PBS, broadcast in 2008. The program and his script for it won the American Institute of Physics' science writing award for 2009. The programs were made possible by a major grant from the National Science Foundation, with additional funding from Sloan.
He has also written books for children, including three novels, Beachmaster, Wavebender, and Driftwhister, (1988-1991) now published in several languages. His non-fiction children's books include The President Builds a House, about the work of Habitat for Humanity (1989), and, with Harriet Shelare, Video Power (1988).
His collaborations with criminologist Robert K. Ressler, the former FBI agent who coined the term "serial killers" and knows more about them than anyone else in the world, include Whoever Fights Monsters and I Have Lived in the Monster, both multi-million copy best-sellers overseas.
In addition to books, he has written articles for The New York Times, Newsday, Smithsonian, and the Hoover Digest, as well as for Huffington Post, History News Network, and the Washington Post's book blog.
He is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, a longtime member of The Authors Guild, and a former president of the board and current trustee of The Writers Room in New York City, an urban writers' colony. He has recently stepped down from trusteeships at two other non-profits, the Connecticut Humanities Council and The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.
He holds a B.S. in experimental psychology from Tufts University, an M.F.A. in theater from Carnegie Mellon, and he has taught writing at New York University and at Harvard University Extension. He has lectured on topics based on his books at more than a dozen other colleges and universities around the country.
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