About Shaun

Hi, and welcome to my site. I’m an author, magazine writer and investigative journalist. Showtime just turned my latest book, The Murder of Sonny Liston, into a feature documentary that you can see on demand. Next up is a movie version that should go into production in 2021.

My instincts always lead me to crime and politics, though I somehow managed to spend twenty years in the investigations unit at ESPN. Four books have also allowed me to join the NASCAR tour for a season; delve into the history of Vince McMahon for a New York Times best-selling unauthorized biography; chronicle America’s history with steroids; and turn into a cold case cop to investigate the decades-old death of Sonny Liston, the infamous heavyweight champion of the word.


Shaun Assael | Photo credit: Amy K. Nelson
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I’ve been lucky to win numerous awards for my magazine work lately, including from the National Association of Black Journalists (for science writing), the Associated Press Sports Editors (for investigative reporting), the National Headliners Club, the New York Press Club, and the World’s Best Radio Programs and World’s Best TV & Films awards.

These days I live in historic home in Wilmington, North Carolina. If you stop by, you’ll probably see with me with a laptop on the porch swing,  working on a sequel to my debut novel, which is awaiting publication. The only moss that grows around here is the Spanish type hanging in our yard.

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Listen: Ring Tones

Episode 2: Award-winning author, journalist and investigator Shaun Assael joins the pod to discuss "Pariah: The Lives and Deaths of Sonny Liston," a documentary developed from his book "The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin and Heavyweights." Immerse yourself...


Thanks to the National Association of Black Journalists for recognizing me at its annual awards ceremony in New Orleans, and to the Killer Nashville International Mystery Writers’ Conference for making The Murder of Sonny Liston a two-time award winner.

“Sonny” is a Boston Globe‘s Best (Sports) Book of 2016

Assael’s account of Liston’s life in a city full of racial tensions, mob connections, and heroin is illuminating, though not conclusive, regarding the heavyweight champ’s last days and mysterious overdose death. Check out other books on the list at...