Proud of August 2!


I've always had a perverse pride in being born on August 2. Middle of summer, so when I was a kid often my friends weren't around for birthday parties. But the weather was always warm, and often my family was away that week too, with family friends  at a summer-rental house in Newport Beach or Laguna. As time went on I collected a group of writer-friends with the same birthday. Lawrence Wright, Erik Tarloff, Caleb Carr, not to mention our departed symbolic leader James Baldwin. (And my hometown friend, the musician and composer Greg Tornquist. And Judge Lance Ito!)

And now -- August 2 is a redolent date for America as a whole. It's the day when the country, allegedly, goes broke. There's a very artful pairing with July 4, the date when the nation symbolically got its start. In historical fact, as we August 2ers know, most signatories actually put their names on the Declaration of Independence on August 2. So our date might go down as the day when the nation got its start -- and when its modern model showed its fecklessness.

When you hear the cautionary references to "August second" in these next few days, give a thought to those of us who sit up with special pride.

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.


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