Sherwin received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Los Angeles. He was the long-time Walter S. Dickson professor of English and American history at Tufts University until his retirement in May 2007. He is now a professor emeritus of Tufts and a University Professor at George Mason University.
He has received numerous awards and grants besides those listed here.
He and co-author Kai Bird shared the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 2006, for their book on Robert Oppenheimer's life, titled American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Sherwin worked on the book for two decades before Bird, a writer (and not a historian), came on to collaborate in piecing all his research together.
Sherwin also wrote A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and its Legacies, which won the Stuart L. Bernath Prize and the American History Book Prize. A previous book on nuclear policy was a runner-up for the Pulitzer.
Sherwin serves on the board of The Nation magazine, to which he is a regular contributor. While a professor at Princeton University, he taught and mentored Katrina vanden Heuvel, now editor-in-chief of The Nation.
He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Susan. His daughter is a graduate of and a professor at Tufts.