Politics & Polls #90: ‘Our Towns’ Featuring James Fallows
Some feel these are the worst of times, that we’re living in an America fraught with political discord and governmental dysfunction. But how bad is it in American towns? Writers James and Deborah Fallows traveled 100,000 miles across the country to find out.
Using a single-engine prop airplane, the husband-wife team visited dozens of towns from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Allentown, Pennsylvania. They interviewed civic leaders, immigrants, educators, artists and more, turning their interviews into a book, “Our Towns,” released this week by Pantheon Books.
James Fallows joins Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang in this episode to discuss the book and an account of a country busy remaking itself.
James Fallows has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic for more than 35 years, reporting from China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and across the United States. He is the author of eleven previous books. His work also has appeared in many other magazines and as public-radio commentaries since the 1980s. He has won a National Book Award and a National Magazine Award. For two years, he was President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter.
Deborah Fallows is a linguist and writer who holds a Ph.D. in theoretical linguistics and is the author of two previous books. She has written for The Atlantic, National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times and The Washington Monthly, and has worked at the Pew Research Center, Oxygen Media and Georgetown University. She and her husband have two sons and four grandchildren.
ABOUT THE HOSTS
Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is also a CNN Political Analyst and columnist for the Atlantic. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society," which was just awarded the DB Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. He has edited and authored 19 books on American political history and published over 700 hundred op-eds, including his popular weekly column on CNN.com.
Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum.