Doug Stanton is a journalist, lecturer, screenwriter, and author of the New York Times bestsellers In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers. Horse Soldiers is the basis for a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie by the same name, starring Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon, to be released by Warner Bros. in 2018. In Harm’s Way, the definitive account of the sinking, rescue, and valor of the USS Indianapolis crew, spent more than six months on the New York Times bestseller list and became required reading on the U.S. Navy's reading list for officers. The unabridged audiobook edition of In Harm’s Way is the winner of the 2017 Audie Award in the History category. Horse Soldiers was featured on the front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.
Stanton has appeared on national TV and radio outlets, including the Today Show, CNN, Imus In The Morning, Discovery, A&E, History channel, Fox News, NPR, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, C-SPAN’s BookTV, PBS, and NBC Nightly News, and has been covered in prominent publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Miami Herald, New York Times. Drawing on his experiences working in the US and overseas, and with contacts in various branches of the U.S. military and government, Stanton lectures nationally to corporate and civic groups, libraries, writing & book clubs, and universities about current events, international affairs, politics, and writing.
Stanton says that he writes and talks about “existential moments when ordinary men and women are forced to adapt and make extraordinary decisions at the least likely moment. That’s when change happens, whether we like it or not.” He has also written on travel, sport, and entertainment, during which time he nearly drowned off Cape Horn waters, got mugged by jungle revolutionaries, played basketball with George Clooney, and took an acting lesson from a gracious Harrison Ford. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, TIME, the Washington Post, Men’s Journal, Smart, Sports Afield, The Daily Beast, and Newsweek; and at Esquire and Outside, where he also has been a contributing editor.
Stanton’s Horse Soldiers was a best-seller on lists in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly Publisher’s Weekly, and IndieBound. Horse Soldiers was named a “Notable Book” by the New York Times. The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association made Horse Soldiers a “Great Lakes, Great Reads” book, and it was chosen as a “Best Book” by Publishers Weekly, Christian Science Monitor, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com.
With the critical and commercial success of Horse Soldiers, Stanton was invited to address Special Forces personnel and officers, as well as the helicopter pilots of the 160th SOAR, at Ft Campbell, Kentucky and Ft Bragg, North Carolina. He was also invited to present a copy of the book to then-Lieutenant General John Mulholland, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Stanton heard from soldiers deployed around the world who’d read Horse Soldiers and who appreciated that their story had been told. Major General Geoffrey Lambert (Ret) explained to a news reporter that Stanton had probably received more access to the Special Forces community than any author writing about this post-9/11 conflict. Lambert also explained to Stanton that the book had grabbed the attention of military planners.
At the Pentagon, Stanton met with Mike Vickers, then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, who offered comparisons between the events of Horse Soldiers with his own experiences in Afghanistan during the Soviet era (Vickers’s feats of diplomacy and guerrilla war are chronicled in Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile).
At the U.S. Senate, Stanton presented Senator Carl Levin, who had earlier read and admired In Harm’s Way, with a copy of Horse Soldiers. During the meeting, Stanton expressed his thoughts about how the campaign of 2001 chronicled in Horse Soldiers could influence U.S. thinking there today.
“The story is about the power of relationships,” one of the soldiers in the book told Stanton after he’d finished reading it. “The relationships between the U.S. soldiers and the Afghans, and between the men on the teams, and with their families at home. Without these, defeating the Taliban would have been close to impossible.
While writing, Stanton wanted to know, “What do you do when you are confronted with someone who wants to harm you?” The question was an organizing principle for his research. Do you use physical force? Social interaction? Cultural influence?
Answering the question, he hoped to create a language to articulate the physical violence that Americans had suddenly awakened to in the first days of the 21st century—- an existential state already familiar to much of the globe. And, finally, Stanton hoped to tell a story of how certain professionally-trained U.S. Army soldiers sought to neutralize this violence, using ideas as much as weaponry.
Stanton’s book In Harm’s Way, about the sinking of the WWII cruiser USS Indianapolis and the gallant fight of her crew to exonerate their court-martialed captain, was also an international bestseller (UK’s The Sunday Times).
The book has been translated into German, Japanese, Danish, Spanish, and Italian. In Harm’s Way appeared on the Publisher’s Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA TODAY, Christian Science Monitor, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher’s Weekly, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, and Book Sense bestseller lists, and was a Barnes & Noble and Amazon Notable/Best book.
In Harm’s Way was a finalist for the WH Smith Award in the UK, and the Great Lakes Book Festival Best Book Award, and was chosen as a New York Review of Book “Best Books In Print,” a Publisher’s Weekly “Notable Book,” and a Michigan Notable Book of the Year.
In Harm’s Way is also included in the US Navy’s required “core values” reading list for naval officers, and is regularly used in highs schools throughout the country as part of the history curriculum. In Harm’s Way has also been chosen by book clubs as part of “Community Reads” programs, appealing to a wide range of readers, men, women, and young adults.
In July 2001, the US Department of Navy, joining with the US Congress, exonerated the ship’s court-martialed captain, Charles Butler McVay. This was a historic reversal of fortune for the survivors of the worst disaster at sea in naval history. In Harm’s Way is credited by those close to the story with helping in this exoneration.
Stanton attended Interlochen Arts Academy, Hampshire College, and received an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he graduated with coursework in both fiction and poetry workshops. Stanton has taught writing and English at the high school and college level, and worked as a commercial sports fisherman in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and caretaker of Robert Frost's house in Vermont.
He lives in Michigan with his wife, Anne Stanton, and their three children, where he co-founded the National Writers Series, a year-round book festival featuring great conversations with America’s best storytellers; and Front Street Writers, a free, for-credit writing workshop for public high school students.
NWS is considered by writers, editors, and readers to be one of the United States’ “top-tier book events.” As a non-profit, The National Writers Series annually awards scholarships to college-bound students interested in writing. Stanton also founded a scholarship fund devoted to the educations of families of USS Indianapolis survivors. Visit www.dougstanton.com and www.nationalwritersseries.org