Nicholas Lemann

"The Atlantic has a national constituency of readers who are interested in high-quality writing about what's going on in the country and in the world," says Nicholas Lemann, "not just in politics and economics but also in their own personal lives. The Atlantic is a single source they can really trust to give them what they want."

Over the years, Lemann has written cover articles on the underclass, the War on Poverty, and the history of standardized testing in the United States. The articles on the underclass were "field tests," he says, for his best-selling book The Promised Land (1991), which received virtually unanimous acclaim from a spectrum of sources. The book established him as a sought-after commentator on race relations and other fundamental aspects of American society. "Thanks to Lemann, white America will never be able to think about the ghetto poor in quite the same way again," Esquire observed.

Lemann joined The Atlantic Monthly as national correspondent in 1983. His first cover article, "In the Forties" (January, 1983), introduced a striking portfolio of photographs that, Lemann wrote, "have the power to suggest the finality with which the life of the nation changed in a generation."

Lemann has also written numerous pieces in The Atlantic Monthly on subjects spanning national and local politics, education, television, and biography. He has contributed numerous book reviews and, in the Travel section, has guided readers through the past history and present beauty of the Catskill Mountains.

Lemann was born and raised in New Orleans. He attended Harvard, graduating in 1976 with a degree in American history and literature. Before joining the staff of The Atlantic Monthly, he worked at The Washington Monthly, Texas Monthly, and The Washington Post.

  • The Politics of Poverty

    Kennedy's concern for the plight of the poor never turned into a broad legislative program. But his successor seized on the issue, claiming it was the martyred president's last wish that he do so.

  • Lost in Post-Reality

    The national entertainment state threatens to transmogrify American life into a soap opera

  • "Ready, Read!"

    A new solution to the problem of failing public schools is emerging: takeover by outside authorities, who prescribe a standardized field-tested curriculum. This runs counter to our long-standing tradition of autonomy for local schools and teachers, but it works

  • America Right and Left

    Political intellectuals of both parties call for something more bracing than Bill Clinton's flabby syncretism—and think we want it too.

  • The Reading Wars

    An old disagreement over how to teach children to read -- whole-language versus phonics -- has re-emerged in California, in a new form. Previously confined largely to education, the dispute is now a full-fledged political issue there, and is likely to become one in other states.

  • Citizen 501(c)(3)

    An increasingly powerful agent in American life is also one of the least noticed.

  • A Cartoon Elite

    The voguish idea that America is run by a small group of brainy people is a wild exaggeration, but it has its political uses.

  • Banana Man

    A pseudonymous Los Angeles columnist stirs up the Korean-American community.

  • Kicking in Groups

    Just as intriguing as Robert Putnam's theory that we are "bowling alone"--that the bonds of civic association are dissolving--is how readily the theory hasbeen accepted

  • The Great Sorting

    The first mass administrations of a scholastic -aptitude test led with surprising speed to the idea that the nation's leaders would be the people who did well on tests

  • The Structure of Success in America

    In America perhaps only race is a more sensitive subject than the way we sort ourselves out in the struggle for success. At the center of that struggle are higher education and ETS, the Educational Testing Service. Herewith an inside look at the history and workings of one of the most familiar yet least public of American institutions

  • Anchors Away

    CBS's Ed Joyce airs his disputes with Dan Rather and his gripes with the network at large in a 1988 memoir

  • Hard Times in the Big Easy

    A portrait of a city that is fast losing its feeling of immunity from the discontents of urban life

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