HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Mark Stein

New York Times Best-Selling Author & Authority on the Formation of State Lines


  • How the States Got Their Shapes
  • The People Behind the Borderlines
  • Thomas Jefferson's Imprint on the American Map
  • Governors Who Impacted the Geographic Formation of States


District of Columbia

Mark Stein is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, How the States Got Their Shapes (Harper), which has provided the basis for the current History Channel series by the same name. Most recently, Stein published How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines. A sought-after keynote speaker at such events as regional business conferences, agricultural association meetings, and government group fundraisers, Stein sheds light on each host organization's state -- historical events, funny and surprising facts, and just how the state became what it is today.

In a light, entertaining style, Stein unpacks the mysteries state by state, line by line. Why are some states boringly square, and others, like Texas and California, truly "outsized?" How can Maryland possibly be -- is that even a shape? Stein packs his presentations with fun oddities and trivia, but audiences also encounter the major fault lines of American history through the fresh lens of geographic disputes, military skirmishes, and land grabs.

In addition to his non-fiction work, Stein wrote the screenplay for the film Housesitter, starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, as well as scripts for several TV movies on CBS and NBC. His plays have been performed off-Broadway and at regional theaters throughout the United States, along with productions in Canada and Europe. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has a master's degree in literature from American University. He has taught playwriting and screenwriting at American University and Catholic University, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Praise for How the States Got Their Shapes:

"Give me the splendid irregularities any day. God bless the panhandles and notches, the West Virginias and Oklahomas."
-- Wall Street Journal

"For anyone who's been confounded by the largest of all jigsaw puzzles, the one that carved out those fifty weirdly formed states, here is the solution. It's history, it's geography, it's comedy, it's indispensable."
-- Andro Linklater, author of The Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity

"If you ever wondered why Delaware owns a small portion of the southwest New Jersey coast, the answer is here!"
-- Library Journal