Current work

I am a writer and scholar specializing in cultural history, with particular interest in the history of music, sound studies, war and society, and the history of capitalism. My scholarly interests also include media studies, the history of the senses, the history of emotions, the history of film and photography, and intellectual property.

Currently, I am finishing a new book titled “Instrument of War: Music and the Making of America’s Soldiers,” about the ways music has enabled U.S. war-making from the Civil War to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It will be published in 2024 by the University of Chicago Press.

I am the co-editor of Capitalism and the Sensesa pioneering collection of essays to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in the spring of 2023.

I also contributed a chapter to Capitalism and the Senses, “Sky’s the Limit: Capitalism, the Senses, and the Failure of Commercial Supersonic Aviation in the United States,” part of my ongoing work on the history of sonic booms.



  • Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music (Harvard University Press) 

A Choice “Outstanding Academic Titles of 2009
Winner of the Hagley Prize for the best book in business history for 2009.
Winner of the 2011 DeSantis Prize of the Society of Historians of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era.
Honorable mention, 2010 Woody Guthrie Prize, International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), U.S. branch.
Certificate of Merit, 2010 ARSC Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research, Best Research in General History of Recorded Sound Category, Association for Recorded Sound Collections
Reviews: The Wall Street Journal, Washington PostThe Nation, Wilson Quarterly, Washington Times,, Los Angeles Times blog, and others.

There’s also a Chinese edition.



  • Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (University of Pennsylvania Press), co-edited by David Suisman and Susan Strasser, with an introduction by David.

“This collection…is multicultural historical analysis at its best.” — Journal of American History



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