Scott Nelson received his PhD in history from the University of North Carolina in 1995. He focuses on nineteenth-century US History. His first book, Iron Confederacies: Southern Railways, Klan Violence and Reconstruction was published by UNC Press in April 1999. His second book, Steel Drivin' Man (published 2006) explores the real life and legend of railway hero John Henry. It was published by Oxford University Press in Fall 2006, and has received rave reviews in Entertainment Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times. The research was featured on the cover of the Chronicle of Higher Education and has aired on the History Channel. It has won the Merle Curti Prize for best book in US social and cultural history, the Anisfield-Wolf Prize for non-fiction, and the National Award for Fine Arts.
With Carol Sheriff, he has completed a social history of the American Civil War called A People at War: Civilians and Soldiers in America's Civil War. It was published by the trade division of Oxford University Press in March of 2007.