Justin Martin is currently at work on A Fierce Glory, to be published in September 2018 (Da Capo Press). This will be a group biography treatment of Antietam, the Civil War’s pivotal battle, still America’s single bloodiest day. The rich cast includes: Robert E. Lee, pioneering war photographer Alexander Gardner, and Jonathan Letterman, the father of battlefield medicine. Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation will also be woven into his account far more than in a typical military history of Antietam.
Martin’s specialty is American history, meticulously researched, but delivered in a narrative style that’s akin to fiction. His most recent is Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians (Da Capo, 2014), the first book ever written about a decadent and incredibly influential artists’ circle that hung out at Pfaff’s saloon in NYC during the 1850s. Among its members: a young Walt Whitman; Artemus Ward, America’s first standup comic; psychedelic drug pioneer Fitz Hugh Ludlow; and Adah Isaacs Menken, an actress notorious for her “Naked Lady” act.
Earlier efforts include Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted (Da Capo, 2011). Genius tells the story of one of the most important figures in the history of America. Olmsted was a fervent abolitionist, noted journalist, Civil War hero, early environmentalist, and the landscape architect behind New York’s Central Park, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Stanford University, the Biltmore Estate and dozens of other green spaces around the U.S. Martin’s other books are Greenspan: The Man Behind Money (Perseus Publishing, 2000) and Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon (Perseus, 2002).
All of Martin’s books have been reviewed widely and well, drawing raves in publications including the Washington Post, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and Vanity Fair. Martin’s bestselling Greenspan bio was chosen as a notable book by the New York Times Book Review. Rebel Souls was selected as the outstanding biography of 2014 by the Victoria Society, New York, was a finalist for the Marfield Prize, and was picked as one of the best books of 2014 by both the Kansas City Star and Choice magazine.
Martin is frequently called upon to give speeches, especially about Olmsted, a vitally important American historical figure whose influence is still felt across the nation. (Here’s a video of a speech Martin gave at the prestigious National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.)
Martin is a former staff writer at Fortune. His articles have appeared in various magazines such as Newsweek, Money, and Conde Nast Traveler, as well as in newspapers across the country: The New York Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and Lawrence (KS) Journal World.
Martin is a 1987 graduate of Rice University in Houston, Texas. He lives with his wife and twin sons in Forest Hills Gardens, a landmark NYC neighborhood designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.