HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Stephen P. Kiernan

Journalist & Novelist


  • Universe of Two
  • Civic Engagement and Activism
  • Development of the Atomic Bomb
  • D-Day from the French Perspective
  • Hospice, Palliative Care, Advance Directives
  • An Evening with Stephen P. Kiernan


More Media

As a journalist and novelist, Stephen P. Kiernan has published nearly four million words. His newspaper work garnered more than forty awards — including the George Polk Award and the Scripps Howard Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment. He is the author of two works of nonfiction, Last Rights and Authentic Patriotism, and is the author of the novels The Curiosity (William Morrow), which is now in television series development, The Baker’s Secret (William Morrow), The Hummingbird (William Morrow), and most recently, Universe of Two (William Morrow).

A novel of conscience, love, and redemption, Universe of Two is a fascinating fictionalized account of the life of Charlie Fisk, a gifted mathematician who was drafted into Manhattan Project and ordered against his morals to build the detonator for the atomic bomb. With his musician wife, he spends his postwar life seeking redemption. Combining riveting historical drama with a poignant love story, Kiernan has conjured a remarkable account of two people struggling to heal their consciences and find peace in a world forever changed.

In some 250-plus appearances across the country, Kiernan has engaged audiences in topics as diverse as the power of creativity, D-Day, hospice and palliative care, and building the atomic bomb. His talks are fresh and funny, surprising and memorable.

A graduate of Middlebury College, Kiernan holds a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. His awards include the Bechner Institute's Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism, and the George Polk Award. He has taught at Middlebury College and the New England Young Writers Conference, and served on the board of the Young Writers Project and the advisory committee of the New Hampshire Palliative Care Initiative. He lives in Vermont with his two amazing sons.

Praise for Stephen P. Kiernan:

“We are the organizers of Congregation Beth Israel Annual Lecture in Lebanon Pa. Our program began in 1987 with Eli Weisel. This year we hosted Stephen Kiernan, author of The Baker’s Secret. He charmed our donors at the cocktail reception, making a great effort to meet and greet everyone! His presentation was very well received by the large turnout that he attracted. The talk was well prepared and skillfully presented and elicited a vigorous Q and A. The book sale and signing at the end of the program went on for some time and put a smile on the bookseller’s face. It was our pleasure to host Stephen Kiernan, who fit right in with our previous list of distinguished speakers.”
-- Judith Clark

Praise for Universe of Two:

“Stephen Kiernan has pulled off the nearly impossible, reminding us by wrapping a war story in a love story that although we hold the power for our own extinction, we also have the power to redeem, heal, and save. The most tender, terrifying, relevant book you’ll read this year.”
-Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family

Praise for The Curiosity:

"Stephen Kiernan's The Curiosity is a true page-turner, mixing cutting edge science with an all-too-human love story, while simultaneously taking on the Big Questions. What is the true measure of a human life? Where does the line fall between legitimate science and playing God? If death could be undone, what would it mean to live? I'm green with envy for this writer's bold imagination. It's one of the most assured debuts in years, a book that will stop your heart and start it again."
-- Justin Cronin, best-selling author of The Passage

"I absolutely loved The Curiosity. It's as thought-provoking and powerful as Flowers for Algernon and the writing is breathtakingly beautiful. And that ending? Poignant, luminescent, and absolutely perfect."
-- Chris Bohjalian, best-selling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls

Praise for Authentic Patriotism:

"From retiree Jack McConnell in South Carolina to Majora Carter in the South Bronx, Americans who brought real change to their communities have maintained a great nation while our institutions failed us. Authentic Patriotism is the story of those people whom you have never heard of, but who are most responsible for the greatness of America."
--Howard Dean

"Authentic Patriotism is poignant, powerful, and deeply inspiring. It reminded me of something we all tend to forget in the maelstrom of partisan politics and corporate bureaucracies: A single, ordinary person still can make a difference - and single, ordinary people are doing precisely that every day. This is an absolutely terrific book."
--Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls

“Kiernan...urges Americans to take on the challenges facing our society in this heartfelt look at everyday heroes who are reshaping society. Patriotism, Kiernan argues, transcends empty flag waving and political posturing, and lies instead in our service to each other and our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of our country and its people. For the author, authentic patriotism is found in the actions of people who take on our most profound social problems -- problems the free market ignores in the absence of a clear profit to be had, and that our government has grown too slow moving and detached to effectively address ... the author constructs a stirring argument against apathy and for engagement.”
-- Publishers Weekly

Praise for Last Rights:

"Damn, I wish I'd had this book before my own father died. Part a guide to thinking through the policy questions surrounding the end of life, and part an informal handbook for helping with the deaths of your own loved ones, it also offers a final and supreme gift: the chance to begin thinking about what your own life means in the context of its inevitable end."
-- Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"With an uncommon mix of stories and scholarship, Stephen Kiernan has described the challenges that remain at life's end, despite efforts to reform care over the past few decades. With candor, clarity, and an advocate's sense of urgency, he seeks to understand why our acute-care system has been so resistant to change and how we can infuse greater humanity to life's final chapter."
-- Joseph J. Fins, M.D., F.A.C.P., Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and author of A Palliative Ethic of Care: Clinical Wisdom at Life's End

"Last Rights paints a frightening picture of the disorganized, deficient, and disastrous ways many people are cared for and die. Thankfully, Kiernan goes beyond exposé to uncover hopeful progress and practical ways to protect and nurture the people we love. Kiernan's Last Rights is to end-of-life care today what Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed was to car safety in the 1960s. This is one book that America must read!"
-- Ira Byock, M.D., Professor of Palliative Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, and author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most

"Gripping...A superb resource for boomers dealing with their parents' final days...as well as for health-care professionals who need to hear this story from the other side.
-- Kirkus Reviews