Linda Himelstein is an award-winning author, journalist, and documentary film producer. Her expansive career has included more than two decades reporting and writing stories for some of the nation’s most influential media outlets. She is the author of the critically acclaimed nonfiction narrative, The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire, which won the Saroyan International Prize for Writing and was a finalist for the James Beard Award. In addition, Linda’s foray into documentary filmmaking began with the 2015 Oscar-nominated investigative feature, The Hunting Ground, which chronicled the epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses.
A graduate of Scripps College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Linda began her career in the Washington bureau of the Wall Street Journal. From there, she went on to work at Legal Times covering Congress, federal agencies, and the courts, as well as appearing on news outlets such as CNN and C-SPAN as an expert commentator.
In 1993, Linda joined BusinessWeek in New York as the legal affairs editor. She wrote about everything from the tobacco industry to Wall Street. One of her cover stories, titled the Bankers Trust Tapes, helped BusinessWeek win a National Magazine Award. In 1996, Linda transferred to the Bay Area, writing about finance and retail for BusinessWeek. Two years later, she became the Silicon Valley bureau chief for the magazine, presiding over coverage of the tech boom and bust and the many fascinating tales it spawned.
Despite the excitement of Silicon Valley, Linda was drawn to a story she had reported years earlier about lawsuits filed by the Smirnov descendants trying to regain the trademarks and copyrights of their family’s vodka empire lost in the tumult of the Russian Revolution. Their efforts failed but their rags-to-riches-to-rags saga became the basis for The King of Vodka. After more than four years researching archives from Moscow to Harvard University, Harper Collins published the book in 2009. BusinessWeek named it one of the best books of the year while the Miami Herald called it “an astonishing tale.” The book, released in paperback in 2010, has been translated into multiple languages.
Linda continues to report and write stories for publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider and others. She has also worked as an investigative producer on several documentary films since The Hunting Ground, including The Great American Lie, which premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival in April 2019.
Linda is currently serving on the alumni board of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in the Bay Area with her family.