Commencement 2017 Speaker
James Mackenzie Fallows
Doctor of Letters
Preeminent journalist and author James Fallows brings his keen perspective and highly respected voice to a wide range of topics across the spectrum of American and international politics and culture. A national correspondent for The Atlantic for more than 35 years, Mr. Fallows writes authoritatively on national security policy, U.S. foreign policy and international relations, global and domestic economics, the development and application of technology, and emerging trends in American civic life.
Mr. Fallows has also served as editor of U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Monthly, and Texas Monthly. His incisive perspective has been deeply informed by his extended times living overseas, including in Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, and by travelling and living across America. In addition to The Atlantic, his work has appeared in many other highly regarded publications, including the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The American Prospect, and Slate. Since the 1980s he has been a frequent news analyst and commentator on public radio and public television programs.
Comprehensive and at times controversial, Mr. Fallows’ writing takes on critical issues of the day. Early in his career his book National Defense, a searing investigation of the military’s favor for technologically advanced weapons despite their diminished effectiveness, received the 1983 National Book Award for Nonfiction. His 1994 book, Looking at the Sun, describes the fundamental differences between Asian and American capitalism and shows how Japan’s economy has grown successfully through the guiding efforts of a strong governmental hand. Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy (1996) provoked critical discussions within his own field. Following the 9/11 attacks he wrote extensively about evolving U.S. policies for combatting terrorism. His 2002 story “Iraq: The Fifty-First State?” warning about the consequences of invading Iraq won the National Magazine Award, an award for which he has been a finalist five other times.
Since returning to the United States from China five years ago, Mr. Fallows and his wife, writer Deborah Fallows, have crisscrossed the United States in their single-engine propeller airplane, making multiple visits to the American heartland and “unglamorous” terrain outside the coastal cities. These in-depth, repeat visits to nearly fifty small cities and towns across the U.S. for their “American Futures” series for The Atlantic reveal thriving communities and creative economic reinvention, a consistent story of resiliency and creative rejuvenation running counter to the prevailing national narrative. Amidst the dislocation of the post-manufacturing era, the Fallows see seeds of a second Reform Age being sown around the country. Through immersive reporting, geo-blogging, and photo documentation, Mr. Fallows aims to marry these perceptions into America’s sense of itself in this time of fervent change.
He and his wife have just completed a book on their findings, to be published next year.
For nearly four decades, James Fallows has put his perceptive curiosity, his investigative mind, and his journalist’s disciplined pen to the work of exploring complex issues and ascendant trends in our nation and abroad. His in-depth analyses and accessible writing have informed legions of readers across the political and social spectrum and around the world.
Last modified March 22 2017 01:11 PM