About Shaun

Hi, and welcome to my site. I’m an author, magazine writer and investigative journalist, as well as a sometime television correspondent. Showtime just bought my latest book, The Murder of Sonny Liston, and is turning it into a feature documentary that will be in theaters next year.

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.

I love the kind of open field reporting that lets me throw myself into a new world and emerge with a better understanding of what drives people — for good and ill. It’s taken me on some amazing rides, with the best yet to come.

These days, my wife, Ellen, and I live with our two dachshunds in a rambling house on a historic block by the water in coastal North Carolina. If you stop by, you’ll probably see with me with a laptop on our porch swing,  blogging as the Cranky Yankee or working on my first novel and a new project about the Civil War.

The only moss that grows around here is the Spanish type that’s hanging from the crepe myrtles in our yard.





Cover steroid nation  


Home Court

Home Court

In this chronicle of the the struggles of African Americans to play tennis in the segregated south, a five-year-old meets a black doctor who changes history by building a clay court in his back yard. Think Green Book, through a tennis lens, with Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe as guest stars.

Cranky Yankee Blogger

Southern Journeys

Southern Journeys

I’m thrilled to be in the “Southern Journeys” issue of the Oxford American with this history of segregated tennis in the South. Come inside to read it.

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as found on:

Outside the Lines

Invite Me to Your Reading

Planning to reopen the unsolved case of Sonny Liston's mysterious death, or reading one of my other books, with your book club or class? I always enjoy joining a book discussion, and can do so virtually. Just reach out with your details.

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