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Stu Levitan welcomes the distinguished author, educator and journalist Nicholas Lemann, who will be appearing this Thursday at the Wisconsin Book Festival to discuss his book Transaction Man: Traders, Disrupters and the Dismantling of Middle-Class America.
Once upon a time, American society revolved around institutions. Government, the church, corporations, unions. Then, about 40 years ago, we turned into a society driven by transactions, a new market-based financial model that profoundly changed politics and economics, both here and abroad, and not for the better. More recently, the network-based world of the Internet has started to take hold, providing vast wealth for some, but threatening most with more economic insecurity.
How we moved from institutions to transactions to networks – and what our next step might, or should be – is the business that occupies Nicholas Lemann in Transaction Man.
Nicholas Lemann in a native of New Orleans, where he began his journalism career as a 17-year-old writer for an alternative weekly. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1976, where he was president of the Harvard Crimson. He served as an editor at the Washington Monthly and Texas Monthly; on the national staffs at The Washington Post and The Atlantic Monthly, and as Washington correspondent and staff writer for The New Yorker, where his most recent piece, in the November 2 issue, is a very perceptive analysis of the Republican party after Trump.
From 2003-2013 he served as Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, where he is now Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus. He also directs Columbia Global Reports, a book publishing venture, and Columbia World Projects, on academic research outside the university.
Transaction Man is his fifth book, following Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War; The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy; American Democracy: 21 Historic Answers to 5 Urgent Questions, and the award-winning The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America.
It is a great pleasure to welcome to Madison BookBeat, Nicholas Lemann.