I am a biographer and historian. My most recent book, "The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt," won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction. I serve on the executive council of the Authors Guild, and am currently a Guggenheim fellow. A native of rural Minnesota, I lived in the city of New York for twenty years, and currently reside in Berkeley, California, with my wife and two children. I have practiced traditional Japanese Shotokan karate-do for more than 31 years, and have a 5th Dan from the Japan Karate Association. I most often travel for research or to give lectures, in which cases I travel alone, and am interested in a quiet, nonsmoking place to rest or catch up on my reading and work.