I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1957, grew up in Arcadia, California, and went away for high school, to the Phillips Exeter Academy. Then it was back west, to Stanford University, then back east, to Harvard, where I studied law and public policy.

After graduating from Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School in 1982, I joined the Washington office of an international law firm, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. In 1986, the firm posted me to Hong Kong, where I lived and worked for three exciting years, mainly on international litigations.  In 1990, I joined the Securities & Exchange Commission, working for several years in the chairman’s office, writing speeches and congressional testimony, advising on enforcement cases.

In 1995, I was hired by Fidelity Investments to be their first internal lawyer based in Hong Kong; my work and travels took me throughout Asia, especially to Japan and Taiwan.  I returned to Washington in 1999, joining Emerging Markets Partnership as an internal lawyer, focused on Asia, eventually rising to be the general counsel of EMP Global, as the firm was known.

In the summer of 2008, my family moved to Exeter, New Hampshire, where we lived for six school years while my wife taught mathematics, I worked on my books and coached the Exeter mock trial team, and my children attended and graduated from the Phillips Exeter Academy. In the summer of 2014 we moved to southern California, to be closer to my parents and our children.

My first book, on John Jay, was published in 2005; my second book, on William Seward, in 2012; my third book, on Edwin Stanton, in 2017; my fourth book, on Salmon Chase, in 2023. I am now working on a fifth book, a biography of William Howard Taft, to be published by Simon & Schuster.

My wife, Dr. Masami Miyauchi Stahr, is a mathematics teacher at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School. My son Clancey Stahr is a venture capitalist, a managing director of GoAhead Ventures. My daughter Lydia Stahr MacDonald works Davita, the kidney dialysis firm, in the Denver area.

I am active in my local community, serving on the board of the Pacific Symphony and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. In 2023, I was part of the team that defeated an ill-advised attempt to change the charter of Newport Beach. I have also been part of the leadership team of our church, St. James Episcopal Church.

In free time, I enjoy hiking and cycling and reading and traveling.




Curriculum Vitae