He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1999 and is the Chair of the History of American Civilization and Professor of English and African American Studies at Harvard University. He has written and lectured widely on slavery and abolition, social protest, the dilemmas of self-making, and photography.

Books in order of publication:

Quality Assurance Of Food: Ingredients, Processing, And Distribution1998
Robert Stivers: Listening to Cement2000
The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race2002
Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln2008
Records of the Proceedings2009
The State of Jones2009
The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid2012
The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches on2013
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave2014
Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American2015
James McCullogh’s Book: A Glimpse into Life on the Colonial Frontier2015