Sheff, David 1955–
Sheff, David 1955–
Born December 23, 1955; married second wife, Karen Barbour (artist and children's book author); children: three, including Nic. Education: Graduated from University of California at Berkeley.
Journalist and writer.
The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono was a Literary Guild selection; Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Recording of 1984 for Heart Play: Unfinished Dialogue; award for Outstanding Contribution to Advancing the Understanding of Addictions, American Psychological Association, for the New York Times Magazine article "My Addicted Son";Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Meth Addiction was Starbucks book program selection and Barnes and Noble Discovery Pick; excellence in radio award, for a National Public Radio documentary.
Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children, Random House (New York, NY), 1993, reprinted, with a new introduction, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1994.
All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2000.
China Dawn: The Story of a Technology and Business Revolution, HarperBusiness (New York, NY), 2002.
Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Meth Addiction, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
Also author and editor of the recording Heart Play: Unfinished Dialogue(recorded interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono), c. 1983; author of a radio documentary for National Public Radio. Contributor to books, including Addiction: Why Can't They Just Stop? New Knowledge, New Treatments, New Hope, edited by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, Rodale (New York, NY), 2007. Contributor to periodicals, including Playboy, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, Outside, Forbes ASAP, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Observer, Foreign Literature Fortune, and Vanity Fair. Author's books have been published in foreign languages, including Japanese, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
David Sheff is a writer whose articles and interviews have appeared in numerous magazines. His extensive interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Playboy was published as The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono and was a Literary Guild selection. Among other notables whom the author has interviewed are photographer Ansel Adams, writer Gore Vidal, and actor Tom Hanks. The author's books include an examination of the Nintendo video game company, the entrepreneurial revolution in China, and a memoir of his son's addiction to crystal methamphetamine.
In his 1993 book,Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children, Sheff recounts the story of how Nintendo garnered eighty percent of America's multibillion-dollar video game industry by the early 1990s. Fortune contributor Alan Deutschman called the book "a detailed, fascinating, and instructive case study of the management practices and corporate culture behind Nintendo's extraordinary success." The author begins by providing a history of this once small Japanese company that was founded in 1889 and specialized in manufacturing playing cards made from mulberry bark pulp. This was the company's only product until 1969, when it formed a department to conduct research into gaming so it could expand its product line. Sheff explores the company's rise to the top of the video game industry through its comprehensive research-and-development efforts, as well as its take-no-prisoners marketing techniques. He profiles several of Nintendo's leaders, as well, including its head, Hiroshi Yamauchi, who admitted to never playing video games.
"Sheff is best when telling his tale through personalities," wrote J.D. Reed in People. Similarly, in a review in Time, Christopher John Farley noted that the author "mixes interesting personal details with colorful snippets of writing." Other reviewers, however, focused more on Sheff's recounting of the business side of Nintendo's efforts. "The book is at its best in describing the way Nintendo came to dominate the market," according to Marc Levinson in the New Leader. The author also addressed the concerns of parents and society over the effect that video games have on children. "Sheff addresses criticism of video games evenhandedly, although his enthusiasm for his subject causes him to be gentler (as well as more illuminating) than many media commentators," commented Management Today contributor Robert Dawson.
China Dawn: The Story of a Technology and Business Revolution was called a "well-written and clearly organized study of an extraordinary economic and social revolution" by Library Journal contributor Susan C. Awe. In his book, Sheff examines Chinese entrepreneurs who are using the latest information technology to spark a transformation within China's social and political worlds. Sheff details not only the country's high-tech revolution but also the government's attempts to strictly control this revolution through censorship and tough regulations. The author spent three years researching the article and traveled to China to meet with various entrepreneurs. Sheff incorporates both profiles and case studies in his story of the primary players in the revolutionary Chinese economy, such as Bo Feng, a former sushi chef turned investment banker and venture capitalist. "The text is equal parts business book, travelogue, political analysis, and personal stories," wrote David Siegfried in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted: "Solid business-reporting skills, backed by wide access to key players, make this an especially useful case study for would-be China hands."
Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Meth Addiction is an expansion of a New York Times magazine article by Sheff titled "My Addicted Son." The book provides a comprehensive view of his son Nic's addiction, which began when he was seventeen years old and followed earlier experimentation with drugs such as marijuana. Writing in Publishers Weekly, a contributor observed that the author's "impulse for detail serves him personally as well as professionally." In addition to chronicling his son's decline into addiction, which included four relapses after going through numerous rehabilitations, he also describes the intense emotional difficulties that it presents for his family.
"Although the journey of the subtitle seems too dreadful to experience, even vicariously, … Sheff's intense memoir is hard to put down," attested Donna Chavez in Booklist. In addition to his own family woes, Sheff provides an overview of methamphetamines and similar drugs, exploring how their abuse has impacted a wide range of American families, from those living in big cities to small rural towns. The author also relates how he had to go through his own recovery from the traumatic experience, which included extensive therapy because he found himself obsessed with his son's difficulties. "An excellent book that all parents can relate to," commented Dorris Dou-glass in the Library Journal. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to Beautiful Boy as "a clear picture of what meth addiction does to a user and those who love him that may help other families better cope with this growing problem."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Sheff, David,Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Meth Addiction, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
Adweek Eastern Edition, August 1, 1994, Andrew Jaffe, review of Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children, p. 38.
Booklist, March 15, 1993, Mary Carroll, review of Game Over, p. 1282; January 1, 2002, David Siegfried, review of China Dawn: The Story of a Technology and Business Revolution, p. 784; May 15, 2007, Donna Chavez, review of Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Meth Addiction, p. 6.
Business and Society Review, summer, 1993, Mark Megalli, review of Game Over, pp. 58-60.
Byte, August, 1993, review of Game Over, p. 49.
CioInsight, March 1, 2002, "Chinese Checkers," review of China Dawn.
Computing Now!, September, 1993, review of Game Over, p. 50.
Entertainment Weekly, March 12, 1993, Wendy Smith, review of Game Over, p. 57.
Foreign Affairs, September, 2002, review of China Dawn, p. 217.
Fortune, May 31, 1993, Alan Deutschman, review of Game Over.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2001, review of China Dawn, p. 1672; June 1, 2007, review of Beautiful Boy.
Library Journal, December 1, 1981, review of The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, p. 2318; February 15, 1993, Joseph W. Leonard, review of Game Over, p. 176; February 1, 2002, Susan C. Awe, review of China Dawn, p. 112; April 15, 2007, Dorris Douglass, review of Beautiful Boy, p. 106.
Long Island Business News, March 8, 2002, review of China Dawn, p. 31.
Maclean's, June 21, 1993, Deirdre McMurdy, review of Game Over, p. 60.
Management Today, January, 1994, Robert Dawson, review of Game Over, p. 80.
New Leader, July 12, 1993, Marc Levinson, review of Game Over, p. 17.
New Scientist, July 24, 1993, Alun Anderson, review of Game Over, p. 40.
New York Review of Books, March 24, 1994, Tim Parks, review of Game Over, p. 34.
New York Times Magazine, February 6, 2005, David Sheff, "My Addicted Son."
People, February 15, 1982, review of The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, p. 12; July 19, 1993, J.D. Reed, review of Game Over, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, October 16, 1981, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, p. 65; January 18, 1993, review of Game Over, p. 456; February 4, 2002, review of China Dawn, p. 70; April 30, 2007, review of Beautiful Boy, p. 145.
Time, July 5, 1993, Christopher John Farley, review of Game Over, p. 63.
Times Literary Supplement, December 24, 1993, Simon Waldman, review of Game Over, p. 15.
Tribune Books(Chicago, IL), July 17, 1994, review of Game Over, p. 8.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August 1995, "Video Games," p. 191.
Asian Review of Books,http://www.asianreviewofbooks.com/ (April 15, 2002), Peter Gordon, "A Bubble with Chinese Characteristics," review of China Dawn.
David Sheff Home Page,http://www.davidsheff.com (November 7, 2007).
Beautiful Boy Web site,http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/books/Beautiful_Boy.html (January 9, 2008).
Starbucks Web sitehttp://www.starbucks.com/ (December 5, 2007), "Starbucks Selects ‘Beautiful Boy.’"