James Fallows

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

James Fallows: Glamorous life

  • The Glamorous Life of a Journalist, No. 1,832

    "I’d love to take you out for a drink..." An insight into getting a reporter's attention.

    Fast typing is just one of the skills a modern reporter should possess. ( Wikipedia )

    Herewith an item from the email inbox. The sender is someone I don't know, and the country he is discussing is one I have never been to or written about.

    Most reporters get lots of PR pitches each day. This one seemed worth sharing as a little glimpse into today's news ecology.

    Hey James,

    We’ve never actually worked together, but I’m hoping to build a stronger relationship between my practice and The Atlantic.

    I recently accepted a position in [a big PR firm's] Foreign Governments practice, and will be representing a number of foreign entities that you’ve covered in the past. I’d love to take you out for a drink or a cup of coffee to figure out what topics you’re interested in and discuss how I can connect you with the appropriate foreign officials.

    On another note, next week, two human rights experts from [a country sometimes in the news for human rights issues] will be in Washington, DC to discuss the report they’ve just published that directly challenges the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) methodologies in investigating human rights violations. Using [their country] as a case study, their research reveals evidence that raises serious questions about the UNHRC’s impartiality and its ability to be an effective oversight body investigating human rights violations.

    Given the heightened activity level of the UNHRC right now and some of the serious charges raised in this report, this is going to be a topic US and foreign policymakers are talking about in the coming months. They have a number of meetings lined up next week, but given your knowledge on the subject, I’d appreciate the opportunity to introduce them to you.

    The two experts who are visiting are both [Country X]-based international affairs experts.

    [ ... Extensive details on the two experts ... ]

    I would be happy to provide you with copies of the report in advance and make both available to you during their visit to Washington.

    I will call you later this week to inquire about a possible meeting, but in the meantime, I may be reached by replying to this email or calling 202-xxx-xxxx.

    Looking forward to connecting,

    For previous installments in the "glamorous life" series, you can start here or here or here or get a big collection here.

  • The Glamour Never Stops

    Fly the friendly floors

    I mentioned earlier how the travel day began yesterday, at the only working socket in a corridor at LAX.


    Because of luggage complications, it turned into an unexpectedly long day and night en route. Here is how it all ended, as I am checking article-revisions in the baggage area at that epitome of elegant travel, Dulles airport. The other sockets in the vicinity had been covered over or disabled, as had those on the plane itself so that my computer battery was dead.

    Thumbnail image for GlamorousLifeDC.jpg

    Hmm, for some reason I can't quite pin down, I am reminded of a recent international survey of airport quality around the world, which found that U.S. airports held exactly zero of the top 25 places in the rankings. [Update: as Obama pointed out just this moment in his press conference.] America's best is the (actually nice) Cincinnati - Northern Kentucky regional airport, at number 30. Next is Denver, at 36. Neither LAX nor Dulles, respectively the beginning and ending of my air journey yesterday, shows up among the top 100 airports for overall convenience, comfort, efficiency, and so on. I wonder why that could be.

    More on the glamorous life saga here. And before you write in, yes I do realize that I am extremely fortunate to have spent so many years in a line of work I love -- including what seem like the years spent sitting on airport floors. I even encourage the adventurous young to consider this career path.
  • The Glamorous Life of a Journalist, Cont.

    The life we have chosen

    Thumbnail image for IMG_20130429_083853.jpg

    LAX, 830 am, locating the only working electric socket along this corridor, knowing that the six-hour (United) flight coming up has no power ports or connectability. Reviewing final-final changes on an article that will "ship" while I am en route.

    I tell myself that this hunched-gnome posture is because I am sitting on the floor. In any case, return to "normal" online presence impends. (Full "glamorous life" archives here.)
  • The Glamorous Life of a Journalist, Fan-Fiction Edition

    'I think it's getting awfully hot in here ... '

    sex-on-the-beach-christmas-style-210x300.jpg

    From the press-release category of the inbox just now. Previously in the "Glamorous Life" series here (which includes earlier links).

    This image has nothing to do with the message below, but you will see the thematic resonance.

    tip: The Obama Erotica Fan Fiction Novel Available for Review -- to James

    From:  Dxxxxxx
      Xxxxxx Public Relations
      Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx
      Email: xxx

    Sent on 01/22/13
    ----------------------

    tip: The Obama Erotica Fan Fiction Novel Available for Review
    Definitely Not Authorized by the President of the United States

    tip: Presidential Porn? 

    Barack and Michelle Obama Star in This Erotic, Romtanic Novel
    [------].com Will Make the Book Available for Free

    BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA STAR IN THIS EROTIC FAN FICTION NOVEL

    I just wanted to put this in front of you to gauge your interest and to give you a heads-up. We are going to announce the world's first fan fiction novel about the President of the United States of America to the public next week.

    Here's a brief description of the novel and the full book will be made available in 7 days online, at no charge.

    WARNING:
    Here's a brief description of the story line:

    "Drawn into the ancient Hawaiian spiritual world and into the exploration of their own deepest and most forbidden desires, will our leading couple be able to resist the guesthouse games that lay in store for them or help to finally lay a spirit to rest?"

    The full book is available via PDF and I can email it to you immediately, based on your interest:

    WARNING! [This book] contains explicit sex scenes, graphic language and the leading characters are in sex scenes with others.

    "Alone in their isolated beachfront guesthouse in the tropical paradise of Kailua, Hawaii, The Obamas are enjoying a holiday of a lifetime. But an unexplained visit from a ghost needing help sees our couple drawn into the ancient Hawaiian spiritual world and into the exploration of their own deepest and most forbidden desires.

    Whilst searching for clues to understand who this mysterious girl is that begs for the couple's help, they uncover a number of rooms equipped to fulfill every type of erotic fantasy imaginable at the remote guesthouse they are staying at. But will our couple be able to resist the quest for sexual pleasure to help put the spirit to rest and bring about justice for a seventy year old tragedy? Or will they drown in the tides of history and their own passions?"
  • The Glamorous Life of a Journalist, Amazing Kreskin Edition

    Predictions are hard, especially about the future. Unless you're a psychic!

    In the mailbox over the weekend, from someone I do not know. For previous "glamorous life" entries see here, here, here, here, here, etc. The subject line on this latest message was "Expert Available - The Amazing Kreskin."


    Hi James,

    Hope you had a great weekend!

    I am excited to announce that world-renowned mentalist, The Amazing Kreskin, has come out with his 2013 Predictions book.


    Kreskin.jpgKreskin covers topics ranging from post-Sandy Hurricane reforms to the dispersion of birth control and religious trends.

    Here are some of the top predictions that Kreskin has made for 2013:

    1.      How the Internet is destined to threaten the future of young people applying for jobs.

    2.      The dramatic scenario unprecedented in Kreskin's career regarding this year's Presidential election and what Kreskin predicted on the Jimmy Fallon Show one year four months before.

    3.      The coming year and the future of the drug war in the United States and how it will play out in 2013.

    4.      The increasing phenomena of compulsive gambling amongst young people will spread to an also increasingly popular phenomena that will extend to all ages thanks to the Internet, that of compulsive buying.

    5.      How public libraries will survive in the United States; as reading becomes less and less of an activity amongst the general public.


    For the record, once back in the 1980s I saw The Amazing Kreskin perform, and it was appropriately amazing. I suppose there's an unavoidable falloff in amazingness when you get into public-policy issues.

Video

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

Writers

Up
Down

From This Author

Just In