The Economist & me

For 20 years, between 1997 and 2017, I wrote for The Economist and its sister publications. That comes to more than a thousand stories.

You may have read my articles without knowing they were by me, because The Economist doesn’t have bylines. Here is just a tiny sample of some stories over the years that I’ve especially enjoyed writing.

Stumbling over the Past (Intelligent Life, 2013)

How an artist and many private citizens remember holocaust victims with Stolpersteine, little brass plates in the public sidewalk of Berlin and other cities, and how those stones form new human connections.

Hitler: What the Führer means for Germans today (The Economist, 2015)

Pegged to expiry of the copyright of Mein Kampf, this is a deep look at how Germans have coped with Hitler’s shadow over the past seven decades and how his legacy shapes Germany today.

The Filipina Sisterhood: An anthropology of happiness (The Economist, 2001)

This is my favorite story ever. Why are the poor and down-trodden Filipina maids in Hong Kong cheerful and apparently happy, when their rich and successful Chinese employers are reliably miserable and cranky? Lessons for all of us!

The Holy Roman Empire: European Disunion done right (2012)

Written in the thick of the euro crisis, this is meant to be a cheeky historical comparison between the European Union and the Holy Roman Empire. The parallels really are quite striking, and may offer lessons.

Migrant farm workers: Fields of Tears (2010)

Here I’m profiling a family of Mexicans who came — illegally — to work in California’s fields. I compare them with the Okies that John Steinbeck wrote about in Grapes of Wrath. Why did they come? Does that reason make it right?

The Graffiti That Made Germany Better (The Atlantic, 2014)

How Berlin’s architecture blends the tragedy of the past with redemption in the present and renewal in the future.

Democracy in California: The people’s will (The Economist, Special Report, 2011)

A deep dive into the causes of California’s dysfunction, which turns into an investigation of “direct democracy”, California’s fourth branch of government:

New media: Among the audience (2006) (The Economist, Special Report, 2006)

This one won an award. It looks at how technology changes the media and society, from Gutenberg to blogs, podcasts, wikis and so forth. Includes a few podcasts we did, which happen to be The Economist‘s first ever!