An accomplished author and speaker when he was still in his 20s, Alan Pell Crawford “was either endowed with a special gift of prescience or generously favored by the political gods,” according to the late James Wechsler in the New York Post.
Crawford’s first book, published by Pantheon when he was only 26, was Thunder on the Right: The ‘New Right’ and the Politics of Resentment, described by Godfrey Hodson in The New Republic as “a notable work of intellectual and political history.”
According to The Economist: “The analysis is acute, the documentation precise, the range of information wide. Nobody who wants a guide to the lunacies of the American right … could ask for a better one than Mr. Crawford’s.”
“Mr. Crawford has rendered a significant, spirited contribution to our understanding of the tensions of a new political era,” Wechsler wrote.
Crawford’s second book, Unwise Passions: A True Story of a Remarkable Woman and the First Great Scandal of Eighteenth-Century America, published in November 2000 by Simon & Schuster, was called by the Wall Street Journal “an unbeatable tale, which Alan Pell Crawford relates in [a] delightful book…We think of the Founders as men of marble, but they knew that human hearts (including their own) could be dark and tempestuous. That is why they built their political systems with such care. Unwise Passions is the black velvet backdrop to an introductory course in political philosophy.”
His most recent book, Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson, published in 2008 by Random House, was a Washington Post Best-Seller.
“In Twilight at Monticello, Alan Pell Crawford treats his subject with grace and sympathetic understanding, and with keen penetration as well, showing the great man’s contradictions (and hypocrisies) for what they were,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Drawing on new archival sources, Mr. Crawford reconstructs daily life at Monticello and depicts a colorful supporting cast of eminent personages, family members and retainers.” Twilight at Monticello “is so skillfully written and well-researched that the book held my interest until the final page,” the Houston Chronicle wrote.
A former U.S. Senate speechwriter, congressional press secretary and magazine editor, Crawford has published essays on politics and history in The New York Times, The Independent of London, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Vogue, The Nation, National Review and The Weekly Standard. He has reviewed books on U.S. history, politics and culture for The Wall Street Journal since 1993.
He has been a resident scholar at George Washington’s Mount Vernon (see story in Style Weekly), the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and the Boston Athenaeum.
A former resident of Washington, DC, he lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife Sally Curran, the editor of My VMFA, the quarterly magazine of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. They are the parents of two sons, Ned and Tim.