In a Washingtonian Magazine cover story entitled, Top Journalists: Washington's Media Elite, Pete Earley was described as one of a handful of journalists in America who "have the power to introduce new ideas and give them currency." A former reporter for The Washington Post, he is the author of nine nonfiction books and three novels. His first book, Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring, was a New York Times bestseller and was made into a five hour miniseries shown on CBS television. For his book, The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison, Earley spent a full year as a reporter inside a maximum security prison. His book, Circumstantial Evidence helped lead to the release of a black man from death row after he had been wrongly convicted of murdering a white teenager in Alabama. His book, CRAZY: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness, tells two stories. It describes his attempts to help is college age son, Mike, after he becomes ill with bipolar disorder and is arrested. It also describes a year that Earley spent at the Miami Dade County Jail where he followed persons with mental disorders, who had been in jail, out into the community to see what sort of services they received. His book was one of two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and has won awards from Mental Health America and the American Psychiatric Association.
He is a lifetime member of NAMI and received its Outstanding Media Award for Advocacy in 2007 at its national convention.