S. C. Gwynne Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling historian

About the Author

S.C. Gwynne is an award-winning journalist, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and bestselling historian. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and received the Texas Book Award and the Oklahoma Book Award, as well as  Rebel Yell.  His other books include, The Perfect Pass, which tells the incredible story of how two unknown coaches revolutionized American football at every level; Hymns of The Republic, a spellbinding, epic account of the dramatic conclusion of the Civil War; and most recently His Majesty’s Airship, which recounts the tragic story of the British airship R101—which went down in a spectacular hydrogen-fueled fireball in 1930. 

Gwynne has spent most of the last fourteen years writing for Texas Monthly, where he was executive editor from 2000-2008. His work included cover stories on Karl Rove, NASA, the King Ranch, Johnny Manziel, the University of Texas, and Southwest Airlines. In 2008, he won the National City and Regional Magazine Award for “Writer of the Year.” He also writes for Outside magazine. His articles include a 2011 story about a canoe trip down the Pecos River in Texas, and a 2012 piece about Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, where the Americans tested atomic weapons and where Bikinians are now trying to return.

Prior to joining Texas Monthly, Gwynne worked for Time magazine as Correspondent, Bureau Chief, National Correspondent and Senior Editor. He traveled throughout the United States and to England, Austria, France, Belgium, Spain, and Russia to report stories for Time, and has won numerous awards for his work there, including a National Headliners Award for his work on the Columbine High School shootings. He also won the Gerald Loeb Award, the country’s most prestigious award for business writing, the Jack Anderson Award as the best investigative reporter, and the John Hancock Award for Distinguished Financial Writing.

Gwynne’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, California Magazine, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and other publications. He attended Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University and lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Katie, and daughter, Maisie.


Suggested Topics

  • Hymns of the Republic
  • His Majesty’s Airship
  • The Final Days of the Civil War
  • The Perfect Pass

Raves and Reviews

Praise for His Majesty’s Airship

A Promethean tale of unlimited ambitions and technical limitations, airy dreams and explosive endings.”
Wall Street Journal

[A] captivating, thoroughly researched book. Gwynne spins a rich tale of technology, daring, and folly that transcends its putative subject. . . . That the ending is no surprise takes nothing from the power of his story.”
—New York Times Book Review

Magnificent, gripping . . . utterly thrilling, the greatest tale of aerial hubris since Icarus.”
Daily Express (UK), Best Books of 2023

Gwynne brings this story alive with a sharp eye for detail, an engaging empathy for his characters, and a gift for storytelling second to none.”
Air Mail

I loved every page of this book. Even though we’re aware of R101’s tragic fate from the beginning, Gwynne still delivers an intensely dramatic story.”
The Times (UK), Best History Books of 2023

[An] excellent account of perhaps Britain’s greatest imperial folly.”
The Spectator 

Dramatic, and laden with hubris. . . . The story of the R101 is an astounding and perhaps not unique cocktail of personal ambition, government mismanagement and bad engineering practice. . . . [Gwynne] paints a fascinating picture. . . . A full and compelling account of this abandoned dream.”
Times Literary Supplement (UK)

A fascinating account of the bad decisions, distractions, naiveté, and sheer incompetence behind the crash of the massive British airship R101 in a field outside Beauvais, France, in October 1930. Meticulously researched and vibrantly written, this is an immersive and enlightening account of how hubris and impatience can lead to disaster.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

His Majesty’s Airship reminds us how those magnificent men in their flying machines persisted, chasing a dream of a future—and a resurgent empire—that was never to be.”
New York Sun

In Gwynne’s masterfully told tale, the characters behind the making of the prosaically named R101 are at least as vivid as the airship itself.”
The Advocate

An addictive account of the rise and disastrous fall of the R101 airship. Author S. C. Gwynne, no stranger to literary success, does a fine job in explaining the machine’s lineage, capturing the spirit of the times and something of the never-say-die attitude that persisted. A compelling read.”
FlyPast Magazine

The tragic story of the British airship R101—which went down in a spectacular hydrogen-fueled fireball in 1930, killing more people than died in the Hindenburg disaster seven years later—has been largely forgotten. In His Majesty’s Airship, historian S.C. Gwynne resurrects it in vivid detail, telling the epic story of great ambition gone terribly wrong.”

Not to be missed. . . . S.C. Gwynne is a consummate storyteller.” 

Gwynne thrillingly and meticulously documents [how] the building of R101 and the entire journey were doomed by bad decisions, inflated egos, faulty technology, and bad luck.” 
Stuck At the Airport

A sturdy, well-paced contribution to aviation history.”

Gwynne meticulously recounts the final flight of the British airship R101 and the entire zeppelin era in this engaging history. There is plenty of international zeppelin history here, but it is the personal conflicts in the R101 control room, exacerbated by Scott’s spiraling problem with alcoholism, the social context, and the near minute-by-minute presentation of the tragic flight that will capture reader attention.”

One of the most fascinating and interesting books I have read about airships. . . . Gwynne is certainly a very good storyteller!”
Aviation Book Review

A great book. Highly recommended.” 
Compulsive Reader

I’ve just closed this book and this is the feeling—I’m standing inside the massive airship, a whale in the air, on its aluminum ‘ribs,’ looking far up into the belly as ten-story tall gas bags shift and pulse like creatures in a fable. . . . Gwynne’s meticulous reporting and the sweet rise and fall of his prose are a mirror to our own foibles, desires, dreams.” 
—Doug Stanton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers

Aviation history is nothing less than miraculous; it took a mere sixty-three years, after all, to get from the Wright brothers to Neil Armstrong. Barely a century ago, however, our skies were filled with a bounty of gliders, biplanes, and flying boats; balloons, blimps, and zeppelins. With His Majesty’s Airship, the inimitable Mr. Gwynne explores in vivid detail how this dream bloomed, and how it, in time, fell tragically to earth. He has written both a remarkable history and an eye-opening revelation of technology’s recurrent phantasms.” 
—Craig Nelson, award-winning author of Pearl Harbor and Rocket Men


Praise for Hymn of the Republic

Sam Gwynne is a master story-teller and a dogged reporter, and in this book he makes history come to life in a way that everyone — not just students of the Texas myth — will find irresistible. I couldn’t put it down.”
— Evan Smith, CEO and Editor in Chief, The Texas Tribune

In the magnificent Rebel Yell, one of the year’s best biographies, writer S.C. Gwynne brings Jackson ferociously to life… His battle scenes are marvels of description and kinetic action. [He] brings a deep humanity to his portrayals of Jackson, his fellow Confederate generals and their Union adversaries… Gwynne’s pages fly by, brimming with excitement and terror.”

In the Media


Books by S. C. Gwynne

Empire of the Summer Moon
Rebel Yell
Perfect Pass
Hymns of the Republic
His Majesty's Airship

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