Robert Manning, Wendy Weil

Two of the people who were most generous to me in journalism and writing died in the past two days.

Robert Manning was the editor of the Atlantic when I first started here, in 1979. Which is to say, he is the person who hired me. This is a photo of him in that same year, from Mark Feeney's obit today in the Boston Globe. He is in the middle, between John Updike and Justin Kaplan.

obitManning 3.jpg

Bob Manning was a very graceful writer and a talented editor, a proud and witty man, a gregarious and devoted and big-hearted friend. During his nearly 15 years as the Atlantic's editor, he brought the magazine into the center of covering the big events of that time, notably the Vietnam war, civil rights progress and tumult, the economic transformations of the oil-shock and stagflation era, the cultural rending and refashioning of American society, the Watergate-induced changes in DC politics, and much else. He also led a very strong Atlantic team -- including Michael Janeway, Richard Todd, Louise Desaulniers, C. Michael Curtis, and others. Mark Feeney's appreciation conveys Manning's achievements and his edge.

When I am back in the U.S. and the DC office on Monday I'll show the wonderful portrait of Bob Manning that we have on our office wall, as part of the long line of Atlantic editors.

wendy.jpgAlso this past week, Wendy Weil, who has been my literary agent on all the books I have written, died suddenly while doing what she did most often, and best -- reading manuscripts. This is the photo from her agency's site. I met her when I was in my mid-20s and she in her mid-30s, and we worked happily together ever since. I was grateful for her combination of patience and prodding, and her complete loyalty to her flock of writers.

I don't mean to be morose, but these are two people whose generosity and heart made a big difference in my life, and whose passing I felt obliged to note. Best wishes to their colleagues, their many friends, and their family members. I will miss them both.

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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