New America’s Fellows Program invests in thinkers—journalists, scholars, filmmakers, and public policy analysts—who offer inventive perspectives on the major challenges facing our society. Please take some time to review the various types of work produced by our Fellows from the past several years.
No Good Men Among the Living
Told through the lives of three Afghans, the stunning tale of how the United States had triumph in sight in Afghanistan—and then brought the Taliban back from the dead.
In No Good Men Among the Living, acclaimed journalist Anand Gopal traces in vivid detail the lives of three Afghans caught in America’s war on terror. He follows a Taliban commander, who rises from scrawny teenager to leading insurgent; a U.S.-backed warlord, who uses the American military to gain personal wealth and power; and a village housewife trapped between the two sides, who discovers the devastating cost of neutrality.
Peter Bergen's book Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad was turned into an HBO documentary that won the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special. “We Got Him”: President Obama, Bin Laden, and the Future of the War on Terror, aired on CNN in 2016 on the fifth anniversary of the raid the killed Osama Bin Laden, featured the first sit-down interview with President Obama in the Situation Room. Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma was adopted from his book United States of Jihad. The 90-minute feature examines the threat of self-radicalized individuals in the age of ISIS, the challenge of detecting plots that can spring up wherever there’s an IP address — and the danger of overstating the threat to a public saturated by warnings about terror. Mr Bergen has produced numerous other documentaries.
Five Days at Memorial
In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center after Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed. Exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.
Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing and the understanding of human nature in crisis.
The Smartest Kids in the World
In a handful of nations, virtually all children are learning to make complex arguments and solve problems they’ve never seen before.
Amanda Ripley follows three Americans embedded in these countries for one year. Kim, fifteen, raises $10,000 so she can move from Oklahoma to Finland; Eric, eighteen, exchanges a high-achieving Minnesota suburb for a booming city in South Korea; and Tom, seventeen, leaves a historic Pennsylvania village for Poland.
Their stories, along with groundbreaking research into learning in other cultures, reveal a pattern of startling transformation: none of these countries had many “smart” kids a few decades ago. The Smartest Kids in the World is a book about building resilience in a new world.
A Moonless, Starless Sky
In the tradition of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this is a masterful, humane work of literary journalism by New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo—a vivid narrative of Africans who are courageously resisting their continent's wave of fundamentalism.
In A Moonless, Starless Sky, Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony's LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women's basketball team flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram. This debut book by one of America's most acclaimed young journalists illuminates the inner lives of ordinary people doing the extraordinary--lives that are too often hidden, underreported, or ignored by the rest of the world.
The Water Will Come
By century's end, hundreds of millions of people will be retreating from the world's shores as our coasts become inundated and our landscapes transformed. From island nations to the world's major cities, coastal regions will disappear. Despite international efforts and tireless research, there is no permanent solution—no barriers to erect or walls to build—that will protect us in the end from the drowning of the world as we know it.
The Water Will Come is the definitive account of the coming water, why and how this will happen, and what it will all mean. As he travels across twelve countries and reports from the front lines, acclaimed journalist Jeff Goodell employs fact, science, and first-person, on-the-ground journalism to show vivid scenes from what already is becoming a water world.
World Without Mind
Over the past few decades there has been a revolution in terms of who controls knowledge and information. This rapid change has imperiled the way we think. Without pausing to consider the cost, the world has rushed to embrace the products and services of four titanic corporations. We shop with Amazon; socialize on Facebook; turn to Apple for entertainment; and rely on Google for information. These companies have produced an unstable and narrow culture of misinformation, and put us on a path to a world without private contemplation, autonomous thought, or solitary introspection—a world without mind. In order to restore our inner lives, we must avoid being coopted by these gigantic companies, and understand the ideas that underpin their success. Foer explains not just the looming existential crisis but the imperative of resistance.
I Was Told to Come Alone
For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing – Muslim and Western.
In I Was Told to Come Alone, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner “Jihadi John,” and then in France, Belgium, and her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization.
The Master Switch
The great information empires of the 20th century have followed a clear and distinctive pattern: after the chaos that follows a major technological innovation, a corporate power intervenes and centralizes control of the new medium—The Master Switch. Tim Wu chronicles the turning points of the century's information landscape: those decisive moments when a medium opens up or closes.
Tim, subjecting the information economy to the traditional methods of dealing with concentrations of industrial power is an unacceptable control of our most essential resource. Wu' s engaging narrative and remarkable historical detail make this a compelling and galvanizing cry for sanity—and necessary deregulation—in the information age.
Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy’s repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China’s future: whether its “Little Emperor” cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China’s growth.
Weaving in Fong’s reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning.
Patrick has additionally written for the New Yorker on the impunity of white-collar criminals and large financial institutions in the U.S. As well as on the child soldiers in the drug war on the US-Mexico border.
Gideon Lewis-Kraus wrote for the New York Times Magazine about how Google is revolutionizing computing through its use of artificial intelligence. He also wrote a feature for the New York Times Magazine about how channeling energy and feelings from the aftermath of the 2016 election allowed for Democrats to sweep Virginia's elections in 2017.
Gideon's works have appeared in several publications, recently including a piece for the Nation about a new journal created in the spirit of Trumpism. Additional works have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review on Baku, an article for Wired about the civil rights movement in the digital age, and an essay for the New York Times Magazine about travel and photography.
Alexis additionally wrote a profile for the New Yorker on U.S. Army Brigadier General Donal Bolduc and the American military presence in Africa, as well as a profile of Melina Matsoukas about how she helps female artists reinvent themselves.
Chris Leonard wrote about the chicken industry for Bloomberg Businessweek. His piece specific explores AgriStats, an industry information sharing service that used data to transform the poultry market.
Chris additionally wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek regarding how heavily millions of Americans rely on the Colonial Pipeline for gasoline. He also wrote for the Washington Post about how Koch industries conducts business.
Larissa MacFarquhar wrote for the New Yorker about a thriving rural community in Iowa and the lessons we can learn from it.
The Final Year
Greg Barker, ASU Future of War Fellow, released the feature documentary The Final Year, a sweeping insiders’ account of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team during their last year in office.
Louie Palu's Kandahar Journals tells the story of his frontline coverage of combat in Kandahar from 2006 to 2010. It won the Dziga Vertov Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Chicago International Art House Film Festival, and has been screened at numerous festivals around the world, including the Doku.Arts Film Festival in Berlin, the Jihlava International Film Festival in Czech Republic, the DocsBarcelona international film festival, the Munich International Documentary Festival (where it was shortlisted for best international documentary), and the Arizona International Film Festival (where it won the festival grand prize). It has been shown at the Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC, where it had its US premier. The film premiered in Canada on CBC’s documentary channel in the fall of 2016. The film has been translated into German and Spanish with additional plans to distribute and screen it in Colombia, Chile, Austria and Switzerland.
The Road to Fame
Hao Wu's The Road to Fame explores the generation born starting in 1979, when China began implementing its one-child policy. The documentary tells their coming-of-age story by following a group of seniors at China's top drama academy as they stage the musical Fame in collaboration with Broadway. The students compete for roles and prepare for the future, negotiating their own definitions of success in today's China. It won the awards for best documentary feature and best editor of a documentary feature at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, among other honors. It has screened on PBS and can be seen on demand on Amazon.