IN the years ahead," says William Langewiesche, the author of this month's cover story, about the iconoclastic wine critic Robert Parker Jr. and his effect on the global wine industry, "I'd like to keep surprising readers with unexpected subjects. I'd like to take them to places where they otherwise might not go, and to pursue this idea of mine that our world is not getting smaller but rather the opposite -- that despite the uniformity that seems to afflict it, the human experience remains infinitely rich and varied."
Langewiesche has been writing for The Atlantic Monthly for ten years, and in that time he has developed a devoted following among both readers and critics. "Thanks for publishing yet more magical writing by William Langewiesche," a reader of his article "The Shipbreakers" wrote to us last summer. The Boston Globe described that same article as "extraordinary journalism," and added, "This is about as good as reporting gets." Langewiesche's subject matter over the years has been wide-ranging: the social and political fault line where the United States meets Mexico ("The Border," May and June, 1992); the cascade of small errors producing the "system accident" that led to the 1996 ValuJet crash ("The Lessons of ValuJet 592," March, 1998); the clash between a rich and implacable American environmentalist and his Chilean peasant neighbors in the forests of Patagonia ("Eden: A Gated Community," June, 1999). Two of his Atlantic articles have been finalists for National Magazine Awards.
For years Langewiesche made his living as a professional pilot. He now has moved to writing full time, though he continues to fly for pleasure. He is the author of three books: (1993), (1996), and (1998). He is at work on a book about a farming family in the high plains of Montana. He is also pursuing half a dozen major articles for The Atlantic, on five continents. If there's anything that ties Langewiesche's work together, besides the elegance of his prose, it's a deep regard for his readers and a desire to help them view the world in a new way. His job, as he sees it, is to "write as honestly and frankly as I possibly can, to avoid formulaic arguments, to respect readers' intelligence and the subtlety of their thoughts, to entertain them, and never to waste their time."
Photograph by Liz Bauer.
The Atlantic Monthly; December 2000; 77 North Washington Street - 00.12; Volume 286, No. 6; page 4.