Susan Wels is a bestselling author, historian, and journalist. Her most recent book, An Assassin in Utopia: The True Story of a Nineteenth Century and a President’s Murder (Pegasus Crime, February 2023), is a true crime odyssey. It explores a forgotten, astonishing chapter of American history, leading the reader from a free-love community in upstate New York to the shocking assassination of President James Garfield.
Her 1997 book Titanic: Legacy of the World’s Greatest Ocean Liner, published by Time-Life Books, sold 440,000 copies and spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It was also a Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and USA Today bestseller. Wels subsequently spent six weeks in the North Atlantic as correspondent for the 1998 Titanic Research and Recovery Expedition, in conjunction with the Discovery Channel and NBC’s Today show. Wels’s 2001 book Pearl Harbor: America’s Darkest Day, also published by Time-Life Books, sold 180,000 copies. She is also the author of nonfiction books including Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It (Running Press, 2009), Stanford: Portrait of a University (Stanford University, 1999), and The Olympic Spirit: 100 Years of the Games (Collins, 1995).
Her work has received praise and press coverage from The New York Post, People magazine, Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine, Publishers Weekly, the American Library Association, Booklist, Library Journal (starred review), School Library Journal, The Independent (UK), Elle Magazine (Italy), the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, San Francisco Arts Monthly, the San Francisco Examiner, and the San Jose Mercury-News.
Wels is also an award-winning magazine editor and seasoned developmental book editor. Among many other titles, she edited the memoir Off Mike (Stanford University Press, 2007) by public radio host Michael Krasny, one of the nation’s leading interviewers of literary luminaries. In addition, she served as senior editor for The Genesis Series, published by HarperCollins, editing six natural history books on America’s national parks. She has written for publications including Time.com, The Independent, and Parenting, Stanford, and Diablo magazines.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Wels graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in English literature and journalism. She also holds an M.A. in history from San Francisco State University. Her work as a historian includes her well-reviewed book San Francisco: Arts for the City—Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012, published by Heyday in 2013, as well as her published research on the role of women at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. In the course of her historical research, she uncovered this fascinating story and has researched it exhaustively for a decade—discovering surprising, previously unexplored connections among the central characters in this tale that changed the course of American history.
Wels and her husband have two daughters and divide their time between the San Francisco Bay Area and their farm in the south of Chile.View all authors