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: Interviews

  • Bob Edwards Show

    Recent interview on Sirius/XM

    During Bob Edwards's many years as host of NPR's Morning Edition, I was often doing commentaries for the program and sometimes had the chance to talk with him on air. In his current incarnation as host of an interview show on Sirius/XM, I had an extended discussion with him recently. It was broadcast this weekend and is available on podcast here

    We talked China, future of journalism, politics, the role of blog-versus-print, and so on. At least from my point of view, it was interesting to have the chance for back-and-forth on these topics and exploration of angles I hadn't expected. FYI.

  • Reading assignment before Obama's speech

    Full text of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech from 1963 (here and many other places). Everyone knows how that speech ends. Not that many have ever read, or now remember, the first two thirds of the speech that built up to the famous close. Here's a guess that it might be an important complement to hearing Barack Obama's inaugural address three hours from now. And even if not, it's too impressive a piece of thought and rhetoric not to revisit every so often.

    More after the event, plus compare-and-contrast reports on this past 24 hours in DC (after the PEK-IAD longhaul) versus other inaugural ceremonies I've seen here over the years -- just about all of them, by the way, in colder weather than today's.

  • Selamat Tahun Baru!

    Or Happy New Year, as they put it in the Indonesian language I have been hearing around me for the past week. That week has coincided with enforced separation from the mighty Internet -- not a bad way to spend time with one's family! -- which in turn leaves me behind on various year-end updates still to come.

    But I can't let this day pass, nor this moment of online connection, without mentioning that my new book Postcards from Tomorrow Square goes on sale today, with official pub date early next month. Random House's catalog listings here. Random House's e-book format is here, and Amazon's Kindle format is here.  A very nice set of quotes, for which I'm grateful, here.


    I won't make a habit of book promo, but I include this link to an email Q-and-A that Kate Merkel-Hess, of the influential blog The China  Beat, conducted with me about the book and the general process of writing about China. She evoked from me an admission I'd long managed to avoid:

    Ahah! You have cruelly revealed the trademarked secret of everything I've ever written for the magazine! 

    Further details and secrets at the China Beat site. Further promised year-end updates on software, hardware, the press, and China in this space very soon. New Year's greetings for now.

  • Media note (updated)

    Late Thursday night, Beijing time, I did an interview about the Olympics for the Lehrer News Hour show that I think will be shown early Thursday night US time. This was foreign-correspondentry from Ye Olden Days: hearing a question over the telephone, carefully putting down the telephone so it's out of camera frame, and then answering the question into the camera -- and those recorded answers being FTPd to the US to be spliced with the questions. OK, semi-olden days. Basic theme: Zhongguo Jia You! Aoyun Hui Jia You!Update: Apparently not shown Thursday. Maybe Friday? Que sera sera. ** Updated update: The segment did run on Friday. Info here, with link to streaming video here.



Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.


How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming



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