David Sheff is the author of Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, a number-one New York Times bestseller. The book was based on his article, “My Addicted Son,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine and won a special award from the American Psychological Association for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of addiction.” Beautiful Boy, published in a dozen languages, was named the year’s Best Nonfiction Book by Entertainment Weekly, an Amazon “Best Books of 2008,” and it won first place in the Barnes and Noble Discover Award in nonfiction. In 2009, David was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Influential People. A feature film adaptation of “Beautiful Boy,” produced by Amazon Studios and Plan B Entertainment and starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet, was released in the U.S. in October 2018 and internationally in February 2019.
David followed Beautiful Boy with Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, also a New York Times bestseller. Clean was the result of the years David spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem, which he sees as the greatest public health challenge of our time. The Partnership for Drug-free Kids honored him with a Special Tribute Award “in recognition of his voice and leadership for families who are struggling with addiction.” He was also received media awards from the College of Problems on Drug Dependence (CPDD), American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), and American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) “to recognize his compelling portrayal of addiction and its personal effects on families and society as a whole.” In December 2019, David will become the first recipient of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Arts and Literature Award.
David is on the advisory boards of the Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program, designed to help colleges and universities promote emotional wellbeing and mental health programming, reduce substance abuse and prevent suicide among their students, and the International Bipolar Foundation. He recently launched the Beautiful Boy Fund, devoted to making quality, evidence-based treatment available to people who need it and identifying and supporting research to further the field of addiction medicine.
David also contributed to HBO’s Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop. Along with The New York Times Magazine, he has written for The New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone, Outside, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Playboy, Esquire and Observer Magazine in England, Foreign Literature in Russia, and Playboy (Shueisha) in Japan. He has conducted seminal interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, Steve Jobs, Ansel Adams, nuclear physicist Ted Taylor, Congressman Barney Frank, Tom Hanks, Betty Friedan, Keith Haring, Jack Nicholson, Carl Sagan, Salman Rushdie, Fareed Zakaria, and others. He also wrote an award-winning documentary about John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and a radio special about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, both for National Public Radio.
David’s other books include Game Over, called “the bible of the videogame industry” by The Wall Street Journal, and “beguiling” and “irresistible. . . almost as hypnotic as a successful video game” by The New York Times. Author Gore Vidal said that China Dawn, David’s book about the Internet revolution in China, is a “fascinating…study of go–getting businessmen in a revived China bound to shape our future.” All We Are Saying, based on David’s interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1980, was a Literary Guild Selection book. Charles Champlin, Arts Editor of the Los Angeles Times, wrote: “David Sheff’s sympathetic questions evoked so much of the Beatle past and of Lennon’s intellectual past and present and future plans that the interview would hardly have been less engrossing and important even it if were not illuminated by tragedy.” He also, with Nic Sheff, wrote HIGH: Everything You Want To Know About Drugs, a book for young adults. His new book is The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place (Simon & Schuster, May 5, 2020), about which the Dalai Lama said "This book shows vividly how, even in the face of the greatest adversity, compassion and a warm-hearted concern for others bring peace and inner strength."
He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. David lives with his family in Northern California.
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Photo Bart Nagel