Daniel Yergin

Daniel Yergin is a Washington, D.C.-based author and economist.

Selected Works:

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power; The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern WorldShattered Peace


1992 Pulitzer Prize (The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power); 1992 Eccles Prize

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Which one or two American books or theatre plays would you recommend to the foreign leaders?

This is a daunting task but for two views of America: Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, to understand much about the world that is emerging. And Steven Weisman’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan: Portrait of an American Visionary in Letters for a sweeping view of American political history.


Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?

My father had the biggest influence. He had been a newspaper reporter in his younger days, and he raised me on stories of Chicago “front page” journalism in the 1920s and 1930s. I learned from him about storytelling, and he passed to me the importance of being a writer. I’m sure in some way I was following through on what he had always wanted to do. I vividly remember we had four tall dark-wood bookcases in our living room, filled with books, and I still remember a family friend standing in front of one of the bookcases, saying, “Your father is a big reader.”

I read a great deal of science fiction and the adventures of Captain Horatio Hornblower. As to specific titles, I remember John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage and books by Ray Bradbury (I got to interview him for the high school literary magazine). And I totally loved short stories by John O’Hara. I was fascinated that critics would say that he had “a great ear for dialogue” and would reflect upon that. Later I was very influenced by David Halberstam and Gay Talese for narrative nonfiction. And the conclusion to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby echoed in the way I concluded my first book.

Which foreign books from writers of the other G8 countries have impressed or influenced you in your writing?

I think I learned a lot from studying Dickens, Thackeray and Evelyn Waugh. I was very taken with the Canadian writer Morley Callaghan’s That Summer in Paris, about Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

What is the Power of the Word Exhibit?

Power of the Word: Leaders, Readers and Writers is the first online exhibition of The American Writers Museum. As world leaders gather in the U.S. this spring, The American Writers Museum Foundation is inviting American writers and readers to explore the power of the word and join in a discussion of how American books can help readers in other parts of the world better understand our culture.

Leaders Gallery

An exploration into what some of the world’s most powerful leaders like to read, and how reading has influenced them.

Writers Gallery

American writers comment on their early experiences with reading and name the books they think world leaders should read in order to better understand American culture.

Readers Gallery

An interactive, open forum where readers are invited to join the discussion by answering the question: Which American works of literature do you think leaders from other nations should read in order to gain a better understanding of America?

We would like to thank our exhibit sponsors for their generous support:


What is The American Writers Museum?

The mission of The American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Learn more at www.americanwritersmuseum.org