The Pulitzer prize-winning author of seven books, David Shipler was a New York Times journalist (1966 to 1988), reporting from New York, Saigon, Moscow, and Jerusalem, and was chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams, which won the Overseas Press Club Award for the best book on foreign affairs in 1983, and The Working Poor: Invisible in America a finalist for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award and the New York Public Library's “Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism.” It won an Outstanding Book Award from The Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights at Simmons College, and led to awards from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the New York Labor Communications Council, and the D.C. Employment Justice Center. The Working Poor is widely used in college courses and has been adopted as common reading for incoming first-year students at many universities as well as for One Book, One Community Reads. He has also written for The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.
David Shipler’s books The Rights of the People (2011, Knopf) and Rights at Risk (2012, Knopf), address the erosion of liberties from the courtroom to the classroom. His book Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword (2015 Knopf), anchored in personal stories, provides Shipler’s investigations of the cultural limits on both expression and the willingness to listen, and exposes troubling instabilities in the very foundations of our democracy. His book Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and was extensively revised and updated in a new edition in 2015. The seminal book on the fraught relationship between Jews and Arabs, presents an in-depth analysis of the origins of the interactions and prejudices and how they are intensified by war, terrorism, and nationalism. Today, as tensions continue to rise, Shipler’s research and insights have only become more relevant and more urgent. His book A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America (1997, Knopf), based on five years of research into stereotyping and interactions across racial lines, garnered him an invitation from President Clinton to participate in his first town meeting on race.
Shipler has received a Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award from Dartmouth College and the following honorary degrees: Doctor of Letters from Middlebury College and Glassboro State College (N.J.), Doctor of Laws from Birmingham-Southern College, and Master of Arts from Dartmouth College, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2003.
Shipler was a member of the Pulitzer jury for general nonfiction in 2008, and served as Chair in 2009. He has taught at Princeton University and American University, was a writer-in-residence at University of Southern California, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow on more than twenty campuses, and a Montgomery Fellow and Visiting Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.
Inquire about Multi-day, Multi-topic Residencies for Colleges and Universities
Lectures are available on the topics of each of Mr. Shipler's books. Here are a few additional ones:
Russia & Foreign Policy Under Trump:
President Trump’s regard for Russia as a partner in addressing certain international problems is not at all misplaced, provided that it is accompanied by a guarded posture of alert wariness. So far, an impression prevails that Trump plays checkers while Putin plays chess. Moscow has long-term aspirations to spread its influence back into Eastern Europe, to recover from the collapse of the Soviet Union, and to neutralize the West’s evangelical goal of spreading liberal democracy globally. (There are signs that Trump also supports a pullback from such political evangelism.) The Russian impulses are deeply rooted in cultural currents that have remained strong from czarist times through the communist period, and into the post-communist era. They include a fascinating ambivalence toward the West—an infatuation and revulsion that both treasures the West’s permissive prosperity and abhors its seeming chaos and disorder. Similarly, while capitalist free enterprise is alluring, it also violates strong moral attitudes in Russia. Political pluralism is enticing and frightening at once, fostering both restive domestic movements and reinforcing a desire for a strong hand at the top. Russia’s complexity interacts with US policy in ways that are often confusing to Washington. Shipler will try to sort it out.
Freedom of Speech & Press in the Age of Trump:
The mainstream, responsible news organizations have been baffled by how to cover a president who indulges in falsehoods. The traditional method of simply reporting a statement and then its rebuttal strikes many editors and reporters as insufficient to counter the outright lies from the White House. So, do you call them “lies?” Or do you use more moderate terms, such as “unverified” or “disputed?” As the debate proceeds, Trump drives the press into methods that he himself deplores: The news stories become more opinionated, taking sides against the president, which in turn gives him license to condemn the press in the hope that the public’s distrust will broaden, until there are no “facts” at all. Whether this tactic is translated into actual government action against the press remains to be seen, but Obama left Trump an arsenal of methods in the aggressive prosecution of leakers. Next steps would include active demands for reporters to reveal sources, then possible prosecution of reporters and editors for revealing classified information, and finally an effort to get a court order imposing prior restraint to prevent a news organization from publishing or broadcasting an unwelcome story. The courts would weigh in, but interim damage could be done, and the cost of defending against such action would be prohibitive for a press already suffering financially.
From Pulitzer Prize winning author David Shipler, The Working Poor presents an intimate portrait of working American families struggling against insurmountable odds to escape poverty. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems in the lives of the poor—white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for the essential jobs they do for the American economy. This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.
An enlightening, intensely researched examination of violations of the constitutional principles that preserve individual rights and civil liberties from courtrooms to classrooms. With telling anecdote and detail, Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler explores the territory where the Constitution meets everyday America, where legal compromises—before and since 9/11—have undermined the criminal justice system’s fairness, enhanced the executive branch’s power over citizens and immigrants, and impaired some of the freewheeling debate and protest essential in a constitutional democracy. Often shocking, yet ultimately idealistic, Rights at Risk shows us the shadows of America where the civil liberties we rightly take for granted have been eroded—and summons us to reclaim them.See More
A Country of Strangers is a magnificent exploration of the psychological landscape where blacks and whites meet. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David K. Shipler takes us among ordinary Americans as they encounter one another across racial lines. We learn how blacks and whites see each other and interpret each other's behavior, explore the competing impulses of integration and separation and how whites and blacks each carry the burden of our history. It looks at relations between minorities, including blacks and Jews, and blacks and Koreans. It explores the human dimensions of affirmative action and the intricate contacts and misunderstandings across racial lines among coworkers and neighbors. The book makes clear that we have the ability to shape our racial landscape--to reconstruct, even if not perfectly, the texture of our relationships. A remarkable book that will stimulate each of us to reexamine and better understand our own deepest attitudes in regard to race in relationships.
An impassioned, incisive look at the violations of civil liberties in the United States that have accelerated over the past decade—and their direct impact on our lives. How have our rights to privacy and justice been undermined? What exactly have we lost? Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler searches for the answers to these questions by traveling the midnight streets of dangerous neighborhoods with police, listening to traumatized victims of secret surveillance, and digging into dubious terrorism prosecutions. The law comes to life in these pages, where the compelling stories of individual men and women illuminate the broad array of government’s powers to intrude into personal lives. Examining the historical expansion and contraction of fundamental liberties in America, this is the account of what has been taken—and of how much we stand to regain by protesting the departures from the Bill of Rights.See More
In this monumental work, David Shipler, award-winning correspondent for The New York Times, examines the forces that contribute to the mutual aversion and hatred in Israel.See More
Interesting first hand account of a great reporter that lived in Russia before the wall came down... a real inside look at their culture - speckled with great insight and entertaining stories and accounts of acts of Russians that would have put some in great risk to themselves for the writers sake and for truth.See More
A provocative, timely assessment of the state of free speech in America. Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times veteran David K. Shipler turns his incisive reporting to a critical American ideal: freedom of speech. Anchored in personal stories—sometimes shocking, sometimes absurd, sometimes dishearteningly familiar—Shipler’s investigations of the cultural limits on both expression and the willingness to listen build to expose troubling instabilities in the very foundations of our democracy. Measured yet sweeping, Freedom of Speech brilliantly reveals the triumphs and challenges of defining and protecting the boundaries of free expression in modern America.See More
Speaking on "The Working Poor: Invisible In America"
Speaking on The Working Poor - Campus Common Read
Reviews for The Working Poor
"This is clearly one of those seminal books that every American should read and read now."
The New York Times Book Review
“An essential book. . . . It should be required reading not just for every member of Congress, but for every eligible voter."
The Washington Post Book World
“Sensitive, sometimes heart-rending . . . . A vivid portrait of the struggle of the working poor to acquire steady, decently paid employment.”
“Insightful and moving. . . . Shipler writes with enormous grace [and] he captures the immense frustration endured by the working poor as few others have."