HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

John Strausbaugh

Author, Cultural Commentator, and Historical Expert on Manhattan


  • Greenwich Village History
  • New York History
  • The History of Popular Music
  • The Life of Elvis Presley


New York

John Strausbaugh, hailed by The Atlantic Monthly as "a particularly gifted chronicler of Newyorkiana," is a widely respected author, journalist, and cultural commentator. He is the author of The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich Village (Ecco), an in-depth look at one of America's most famous, colorful and artistic neighborhoods. Strausbaugh details how Greenwich Village came to be, starting with the early 17th century when Dutchman Wouter Van Twiller turned 200 acres of land into a tobacco plantation named Bossen Bouwery, or Farm in the Woods. From there, Strausbaugh continues his historical progression, touching on everything from the 19th century watering hole of Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Ada Clare, the neighborhood's first true bohemians, to the raucous arrival of Allan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and the beat generation. A fascinating and entertaining speaker, Strausbaugh appears at universities, cultural organizations, historical societies, museums, and libraries across the country.

With his unique, historical perspective, Strausbaugh has written numerous books on a variety of topics, including Sissy Nation: How America Became a Culture of Wimps & Stoopits, Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture, and E: Reflections on the Birth of the Elvis Faith, which examines the priesthood that spreads the gospel of Elvisism. He also collaborated with former baseball player Darryl Strawberry on his 2009 memoir, Straw: Finding My Way (Ecco).

From 1988 through 2002, Strausbaugh wrote and edited for the weekly New York Press. He is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times, for whom he wrote and hosted the Weekend Explorer series of history articles, videos and podcasts. His work has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Forbes, American Heritage, Cabinet Magazine, PBS, and NPR. Strausbaugh has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, CNN News, ABC News, NPR and countless radio programs, and he regularly contributes articles on cultural history to chiseler.org.

Praise for The Village:

"A great, sprawling saga of genius and vice in New York City's Greenwich Village. John Strausbaugh captures Bohemia at its best and level worst, reminding us why we love this place. His account is breathtaking."
-- Teresa Carpenter, bestselling author of New York Diaries

"The very best kind of cultural history: Literate, lucid, erudite, and entertaining."
-- Michael Lesy, author of Murder City: The Bloody History of Chicago in the Twenties

"In the 1950's, the mantra of all of us who lived in Greenwich Village was 'Never go above 14th Street.' With the publication of John Strausbaugh's brilliant new book, the whole world is welcomed to come down below 14th Street to feel at home in the Village, and see why it has been such a special place for the past 400 years. Strausbaugh's delightful and brilliantly written history is as energizing and informative as drinking several espressos in one of the Village's legendary coffee houses and listening to the random conversations of assorted old timers. I learned more about the history of Greenwich Village by reading this book than I did during the forty years I lived there."
-- David Amram, Composer, Conductor, Multi-Instrumentalist, and author of Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac

"A dynamic history of Greenwich Village, thoroughly researched and rich in anecdotal comment. It will take you on a great ride and introduce you to everyone from Edgar Allen Poe to the Beats. There is so much more to the Village than today's Marc Jacobs stores and Sex and the City bus tours. Strausbaugh has captured the true essence of the Village -- a working class stronghold and a cradle of genuine American culture -- and has presented readers with a great absorbing read."
-- Dermot McEvoy, author of Our Lady of Greenwich Village and Terrible Angel

"Strausbaugh has produced the definitive history of America's bohemian wellspring and prototypical modern neighborhood with all the verve and fun and rigor it deserves."
-- Kurt Andersen, bestselling author of True Believers and Heyday

"An engaging, scholarly, and vivid evocation of a neighborhood that's been, seen, and done everything and everyone."
-- Mark Caldwell, author of
New York Night

"Cultural journalist Strausbaugh, a man of rattling opinions, makes all the legends about Greenwich Village and its bohemians new and vital in his sizzling and capacious history, by virtue of his archaeologically deep and patient research, vigorous style, and keen admiration for those who made the Village a world-altering 'cultural engine'."
-- Booklist

"The author of Sissy Nation: How America Became a Nation of Wimps and Stoopits (2008) and other cultural criticisms and histories returns with a ... loving and thoroughly researched look at what he calls 'a zone of rogues and outcasts from the start.' ...Fine social history humanized with a sort of paradise-lost wistfulness."
-- Kirkus Reviews

"The most comprehensive, up-to-date history of Greenwich Village, this book will appeal to a wide audience, particularly those interested in an interdisciplinary approach to the subject."
-- Library Journal