Julian Rubinstein

Photo by Evan Brenner


Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

    • Winner, Borders 2004 “Original Voices” Non-Fiction Book of the Year
    • Finalist, 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award, Best Fact Crime Book
    • Finalist, 2005 Anthony Award, Best Non-fiction
    • Finalist, 2007 Audie Award, Best Audio Book (serving as co-producer, director, narrator and music composer)

Magazine Work

    • Notable Story of the Year, Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2014, for “Operation Easter,” from the New Yorker (July 22, 2013).
    • 2009 Lowell Thomas Travel Writing Award, Bronze Medal, Society of American Travel Writers, for best magazine article about a U.S. or Canadian destination for his feature story on Aspen in Travel + Leisure magazine, January, 2009. (Travel + Leisure, January 2009)
    • Notable Essay of the Year, Best American Essays, 2007, for personal essay about Julian’s filming the last three years of his father’s life, (“Final Cut”) from 5280, May, 2006.
    • Official Selection, Best American Crime Writing, 2002, for story on Israeli ecstasy godfather, Jacob Orgad, (“The X-Files”) from Details, Sept, 2001.
    • Notable Story of the Year, Best American Sports Writing, 2002, for profile of John McEnroe (“Being John McEnroe”) from sportsjones.com/espn.com, Sept.2001.
    • Notable Story of the Year, Best American Sports Writing, 1999, for profile of New York Yankees pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, (“The Chosen One”) from Gear, premiere issue, Sept/Oct, 1998.
    • Best Journalism, 2000, from the Women’s Sports Foundation, for story on the Sexual Politics of the Dunk, (“Slam It, Baby”) from Salon, Sept, 1999.
    • Finalist, Feature Writing, Online Journalism Association Awards, 2001, for profile of John McEnroe, (“Being John McEnroe”) from sportsjones.com/espn.com. Sept. 2001

Julian Rubinstein is an award-winning journalist, author, educator, and documentary filmmaker. His new non-fiction book, The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood, was published by FSG in 2021 and named a New York Times “Editors’ Choice.” Booklist called it “a shattering piece of investigative journalism involving street gangs, race relations and law enforcement,” and named it to its Best Books of 2021 list. It is the winner of the 2022 Colorado Book Award for general nonfiction and winner of the 2022 High Plains Book Award for creative nonfiction.

While reporting the book, Rubinstein also directed his first documentary film, THE HOLLY. The film, which is Executive Produced by Academy Award-winner Adam McKay, premiered at the Telluride Mountainfilm festival and won the Audience Choice Award for best documentary. It went on to win the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Santa Fe International Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Denver Film Festival. It was acquired by Gravitas Ventures and was released in theaters nationwide in 2023 in theaters. It is currently available on Amazon Prime, Starz, iTunes, Hulu and others. More on the film here.

He is currently the Visiting Filmmaker and Lecturer at Western Colorado University. Prior to that he was Visiting Professor of the Practice in Documentary Journalism at the University of Denver.

Rubinstein’s first book was the international bestseller, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber, which was the winner of Borders Nonfiction Book of the Year, a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime and a New York Times “Editors Choice.” It was published in five languages.

His magazine work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Travel + Leisure and others, and been selected by Best American Essays, Best American Crime Writing, Best American Sports Writing, and won a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing.

Rubinstein began his career as an agate clerk in the Sports department of the Washington Post, where he also wrote for the Sports and Style sections. He went on to work for four years for Sports Illustrated. In 1998, he began working as an indepdent journalist. He reported from more than a dozen countries. His award-winning stories include investigation into the mysterious deaths of the Guarani Indians of Brazil; the inside story of the bloody Hells Angels turf war in Quebec; a profile of the Israeli ecstasy kingpin Jacob “Cookie” Orgad; and an expose about the underground network of illegal egg collectors in the U.K. and a New York Times Magazine profile of John McEnroe. He also gained access to a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. His short fiction has appeared in Writing Away from Home, international authors in Brussels.

He is a member of the PEN American Center and a recipient of a Lannan Foundation Grant, and the Center for Investigative Journalism’s Dick Goldensohn Grant. He has received fellowships and artist residencies from the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Ledig International Writers House, the Passa Porta International House of Literature, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Santa Fe Art Institute, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation. His work has been published in more than a dozen countries and translated in eight languages. He has spoken at festivals, universities, companies, and organizations around the world. He has been an adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, from which he received his master’s degree, and worked as an editor and producer for the Columbia’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

He has worked with at-risk youth at Groundwork in Brooklyn and Friends For Youth in Colorado. His mentee, Ngor Monday, was killed in a shootout in 2019.

Julian was born in the Bronx and raised in Denver. In 2014, he moved back to Denver to report his new book.