James Tobin specializes in the genres of narrative journalism and popular history.
After bachelor's and doctoral studies in history at the University of Michigan, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1986, he spent 20 years as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
His newspaper work was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
While still a reporter, he wrote his first book, Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II (1997), which grew out of his doctoral dissertation. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography. Among his other books are To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight (Free Press, 2003), which The Wall Street Journal named one of "Five Best" books about invention; and The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency (Simon & Schuster, 2013).
He also edited Reporting America at War: An Oral History (Hyperion, 2003). He has written three books for children.
Professor Tobin also writes in the field of institutional history. From some 150 magazine articles about his alma mater, the University of Michigan Press chose two dozen to publish as a collection, Sing to the Colors: A Writer Explores Two Centuries at the University of Michigan (2021).
His teaching interests range from the fundamentals of writing for media to intermediate and advanced courses in narrative journalism and history.
He teaches a freshman seminar in journalism for students in Miami's Honors College. As a strong advocate of student media, he served for eight years as editorial advisor to the award-winning Miami Student.
He now chairs Miami's Committee on Student Media Organizations.