I am an award-winning journalist, best-selling writer, editor, and the author, most recently, of Teaching Common Sense: The Grand Strategy Program at Yale University about one of Yale’s best-known and most sought-after courses. Based on years of onsite reporting, archival research, interviews with students and faculty, and original survey data, Teaching Common Sense looks at “Studies in Grand Strategy,” a year-long, by-application leadership seminar. The course addresses some of higher education’s bedrock questions, such as how critical thinking is taught and how this generation will learn to cope with uncertainty in a fast-changing world.
I have collaborated on seven nonfiction books, working successfully with a group of diverse people to shape their personal, and sometimes painful, stories into compelling narratives.
These include Amanda Knox’s New York Times bestselling memoir, Waiting to Be Heard; Hillary Clinton’s Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets, written while she was First Lady; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life; George McGovern’s What It Means to Be a Democrat; George Foreman’s Guide to Life: How to Get Up Off the Canvas When Life Knocks You Down; and James Carville’s We’re Right, They’re Wrong. Each of these projects required me to become an expert on a nuanced topic, whether on the Italian legal system, the root causes of homelessness, heavyweight wrestling, or gun safety reform.
For the past fifteen years, I have worked with former Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady, writing his family memoir, A Way of Going, op-ed pieces, and speeches. One speech, “Fifty Years in the Business: From Wall Street to the Treasury and Beyond,” presented at Stanford University, was anthologized in the book Ending Government Bailouts.
I joined the staff of U.S. News & World Report in 1995, where I covered the 1996 presidential election, traveling on Air Force One with Bill Clinton. Over the course of a decade, I rose to become a senior writer, conceiving and orchestrating several of the magazine’s special editions and writing many of its best-selling cover stories on topics as varied as a profile of the Arkansas doctor who operates on newborns with tumors, Jesus’s Jewish identity (anthologized in Perspectives on the Passion of the Christ: Religious Thinkers and Writers Explore the Issues Raised By the Controversial Movie), and the history of food in America. This work honed my ability to explain complex ideas to a lay audience, find my subject’s voice, and tell a captivating story.
Prior to U.S. News I was a fact checker at The New Yorker. I graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1993.
Among other publications I have contributed to the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, National Geographic, AOL’s PoliticsDaily, and NPR.org, where I was founding editor of the podcast series “Book Tour.”
A graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I live in Washington, DC, with my husband, photographer Ralph Alswang, and our two children.