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Don Lattin is a freelance journalist and the author of five books.
His most recent work, DISTILLED SPIRITS -- Getting High, then Sober, with a Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher, and a Hopeless Drunk, was published in Fall 2012 by University of California Press, and is available as an e-book on the Kindle platform. It’s a memoir/group biography that looks at how writer Aldous Huxley, philosopher Gerald Heard, and Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, opened new doors in Western religious thought.

Distilled Spirits is a prequel to Don’s previous book, THE HARVARD PSYCHEDELIC CLUB -- How Timothy Leary, Andrew Weil, Ram Dass, and Huston Smith Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America, which was a national bestseller and won the 2010 California Book Award, Silver Medal, for non-fiction.

    good morning america  
Lattin's work has appeared in dozens of U.S. magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, where Don covered the religion beat for nearly two decades. He has also worked as a consultant and commentator for Dateline NBC; PrimeTime Live, Good Morning America and Nightline on ABC Television; Anderson Cooper 360 and American Morning on CNN; and Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on PBS.

Lattin's other books are JESUS FREAKS - A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge (HarperOne 2007) and FOLLOWING OUR BLISS - How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today (HarperSanFrancisco 2003). He is the co-author (with Richard Cimino) of SHOPPING FOR FAITH – American Religion in the New Millennium (Jossey Bass 1998).


Don has taught religion writing at the Graduate School of Journalism
at the University of California at Berkeley, where he holds a degree in sociology. He served as Managing Editor of the God, Sex and Family project for the “News21” program at UC Berkeley. For more information, go to

  cover love in world  
Lattin is also a contributing writer for
the Encyclopedia of Love in World
(ABC-CLIO, 2007) and the
Encyclopedia of Religion in America
(CQ Press, 2010).


“Distilled Spirits” wins the
“Religion Book of the Year" award for 2013.
Religion Newswriters Association Annual Convention, Austin, Texas


According to the judges: “Don Lattin brings his own gimlet perspective to a group biography of three very different men who all influenced contemporary religion. Lattin's own expertise with California-based religions brings a richness and a sparkle to a story that has been hiding in plain sight for years. Well told with humor, insight, deep reporting and, most engaging, a revealing look at the author's own spiritual progression. Combines the best of religion reporting and biography to make a rich, fine read.”



The Harvard Psychedelic Club Wins California Book Award

On June 2, 2011, Don Lattin was one of ten authors to win the California Book Award for outstanding achievement for works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry published in 2010.Don won the Silver Medal in Nonfiction for The Harvard Psychedelic Club.

Past winners of that Silver Medal include Wallace Stegner, Will Saroyan, Fawn Brodie and Will Durant. The awards were presented at a ceremony in San Francisco at the headquarters of the Commonwealth Club of California. This was the 80th year that the award has been presented to honor the literary work of California authors.

Yunte Huang, an English professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, won the Gold Medal in Non-fiction for Charlie Chan. Karen Tei Yamashita won the Gold Medal for her novel I Hotel, while Eric Puchner was honored with the Silver Medal in fiction for his book Model Home. University of California Press was honored for its contribution to publishing for its bestselling work, The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1.

UC Press will publish Lattin's next work, titled DISTILLED SPIRITS – Getting High then Sober with Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher and a Hopeless Drunk. The new book tells the compelling stories of three men – writer Aldous Huxley, philosopher Gerald Heard and Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson – whose work and inspiring friendship transformed the landscape of Western religion and spirituality. Don blends this group biography with a revealing memoir of his own misadventures as a religion reporter “worshipping at the altar of drugs and alcohol.”
Click to see video of the California Book Award ceremony










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February 5, 2017