Jeff Sharlet

Jeff Sharlet is the New York Times best-selling author or editor of eight books, including THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, adapted into a Netflix documentary series, and THIS BRILLIANT DARKNESS: A Book of Strangers. His new book, THE UNDERTOW: Scenes from a Slow Civil War, is “journalism-as-art, attempting to capture the mood of the nation at this fraught moment, that others in the future may know how it felt to live through the present” (Washington Post). Exploring a geography of grief and uncertainty in the midst of plague and rising fascism, THE UNDERTOW is a necessary reckoning with our precarious present that brings to light a decade of American failures as well as a vision for American possibility (March 2023, W.W. Norton).

Jeff’s reporting on LGBTIQ+ rights around the world has received the National Magazine Award, the Molly Ivins Prize, and Outright International’s Outspoken Award. His writing and photography have appeared in many publications, including Vanity Fair, for which he is a contributing editor; the New York Times Magazine; GQ; Esquire; Harper’s; and VQR, for which he is an editor at large. He has been a frequent guest on The Rachel Maddow Show, Fresh Air, All In with Chris Hayes, CNN, and many other television and radio programs.

Jeff is the Frederick Sessions Beebe ’35 Professor in the Art of Writing and Director of Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

“Part reporter, part prophet, Jeff Sharlet is an American visionary in the lineage that runs from Twain to Robinson Jeffers to Sam Shepard and Joan Didion.” – Peter Trachtenberg, author of “7 Tattoos” and “The Book of Calamities”



“In these reports from America’s different corners there comes a feeling for why we’re so broken and what it might take to heal. Brilliant, lucid, incisive, meticulously reported—Jeff Sharlet is at his best here even when we are not.” – Alexander Chee, bestselling author of Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night

“Poetic descriptions of America’s landscape and history punctuate Sharlet’s unsettling insights into the undercurrents of fear, isolation, and anger coursing through the country. It’s a jaw-dropping portrait of a country on the edge.” – Publishers Weekly

“Brilliant, humane, and incisive, Jeff Sharlet illuminates the fault lines of a fractured nation. His meticulous reporting connects the dots on a stark but hopeful journey.” – Wajahat Ali, author of Go Back to Where You Came From

“A must-read in order to understand the conflicting voices and tensions in America today.” – Anthea Butler, author of White Evangelical Racism


“Bless Jeff Sharlet for not walking away, but sharing his humanity by bridging the deadly gap of isolation with love.” – Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion: Essays of Undoing

This Brilliant Darkness is “a luminous, moving and visual record of fleeting moments of connection.” – New York Times Book Review

“We often say that a book has changed our lives. But it’s rare to say that a book made us more human . . . ‘This Brilliant Darkness’ feels as transformative and essential as anything I have read in years. Sharlet’s work is an incantation, a prayer for and summoning of the human powers of observation, empathy, and compassion.” – Michael Washburn, Los Angeles Review of Books

This Brilliant Darkness is “a triumph of visual and written storytelling, both evocative and moving.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“One of the most beautiful works I’ve ever read. ‘This Brilliant Darkness’ is dazzling and addictive, a constellation of stories about how we love before we die. This book breathes.” – Blair Braverman, author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

This Brilliant Darkness is “a phenomenally original book that will press into your chest about as deeply as literature can go. Sharlet is his generation’s Steinbeck.” – Timothy Tyson, author of The Blood of Emmett Till


“Jeff Sharlet provides a fascinating account of how part of American Christianity has gone off on a dangerous tangent. It should worry everyone—maybe especially those of us who understand the Gospels to be a call to help the powerless, not prop up the powerful.” – Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

“Jeff Sharlet is one of the very best writers covering the politics of religion. Brilliantly reported and filled with wonderful anecdotes, THE FAMILY tells the story of an influential group that you haven’t previously heard of, and need to know about.” – Ken Silverstein, Washington editor of Harper’s and author of The Radioactive Boy Scout

“A brilliant marriage of investigative journalism and history, an unsettling story of how this small but powerful group shaped the faith of the nation in the 20th century and drives the politics of empire in the 21st. Anyone interested in circles of power will love this book.” – Debby Applegate, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

Books, Films & Projects


Democracy Now: Jeff Sharlet on Trump, the Far Right & the Growing Threat of Fascism in U.S.

Thom Hartmann Program: America’s Slow Civil War w/ Jeff Sharlet

Jeff Sharlet talks about his book, 'This Brilliant Darkness,' at WBUR CitySpace.

Watch Jeff Sharlet in THE FAMILY, the NETFLIX docuseries based on his bestselling book.


Jeff Sharlet’s new book, THE UNDERTOW: Scenes from a Slow Civil War is a New York Times bestseller! “Riveting, insightful.… Weaving religion, hate, hope, and fear into stories that catch us unaware, Jeff Sharlet confronts us with the realities of the shifting American psyche—a must-read in order to understand the conflicting voices and tensions in America today.” – Anthea Butler, author of White Evangelical Racism.

Strangers’ Things: A Journalist Finds Grace in Other People’s Stories. Read Jennifer Percy’s New York Times review of Jeff Sharlet’s “gorgeous new book,” This Brilliant Darkness.

Seeing Together: Care, Community, and Connection in Jeff Sharlet’s ‘This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers.‘ Read Michael Washburn’s poignant review for the Los Angeles Review of Books.