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David Shipler    

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author, Former Foreign Correspondent of The New York Times, Online Writer for The Shipler Report

David K. Shipler was born on December 3, 1942. He grew up in Chatham, New Jersey. Shipler Graduated from Dartmouth in 1964 and served in U.S. Navy as officer on a destroyer from 1964-66.

Shipler joined The New York Times as a news clerk in 1966 and was promoted to city staff reporter, in 1968. He covered housing, poverty, politics and won awards from the American Political Science Association, the New York Newspaper Guild, and elsewhere.

From 1973-75, Shipler served as a New York Times correspondent in Saigon, covering South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. He reported also from Burma.

He spent a semester in 1975 at the Russian Institute of Columbia U. studying Russian language and Soviet politics, economics and history to prepare for assignment in Moscow. He was a correspondent in Moscow Bureau for four years, from 1975-79 and Moscow Bureau Chief from 1977-79. Shipler wrote the best-seller, “Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams,” published in 1983, updated in 1989, which won the Overseas Press Club Award in 1983 as the best book that year on foreign affairs.

From 1979-84, he served as Bureau Chief of The New York Times in Jerusalem. He was co-recipient (with Thomas Friedman) of the 1983 George Polk Award for covering Lebanon War.

He spent a year, from 1984-85, as a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington to write Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, which explores the mutual perceptions and relationships between Arabs and Jews in Israel and the West Bank. The book won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and was extensively revised and updated in 2002 and again in 2015. A revised edition is planned for 2015. He was also the executive producer, writer and narrator of a two-hour PBS documentary on “Arab and Jew,” which won a 1990 Dupont-Columbia award for broadcast journalism, and of a one-hour film, “Arab and Jew: Return to the Promised Land,” which aired on PBS in August 2002.

Shipler served as Chief Diplomatic Correspondent in the Washington Bureau of The New York Times until 1988. From 1988-9, he was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writing on transitions to democracy in Russia and Eastern Europe for The New Yorker and other publications.

His book “A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America,” was based on five years of research into stereotyping and interactions across racial lines, and was published in 1997. Shipler was one of three authors invited by President Clinton to participate in his first town meeting on race.

His next book, “The Working Poor: Invisible in America,” was a national best-seller in 2004 and 2005. It was a finalist for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award and the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award. It won an Outstanding Book Award from The Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights at Simmons College and led to awards from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the New York Labor Communications Council, and the D.C. Employment Justice Center. He has written two books on civil liberties, the first published in 2011, “The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties,” and the second, “Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America,” in 2012. His latest book, “Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword,” will be published in 2015.

Shipler has received a Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award from Dartmouth and the following honorary degrees: Doctor of Letters from Middlebury College and Glassboro State College (N.J.), Doctor of Laws from Birmingham-Southern College, and Master of Arts from Dartmouth College, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2003. He was a member of the Pulitzer jury for general nonfiction in 2008 and chair in 2009. He has taught at Princeton and American University, as writer-in-residence at U. of Southern California, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow on about twenty campuses, and a Montgomery Fellow and Visiting Professor of Government at Dartmouth.

Speech Topics

Russia and the New Cold War

Even before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia under Putin was hurtling backwards into an authoritarian system without the relatively free press that emerged under Gorbachev in the late 1980s, and without the space to debate government policy and address social ills. It is return to historical Russian habits of resentments toward plurality, diversity of thought, and Western-style permissiveness. But Russia is not going away. So how should the U.S. and Europe respond going forward? What kind of relationship can we have?

The Working Poor

Millions of Americans who work earn too low a wage to keep them very far above poverty. Their problems come in chain reactions of ills that cannot be effectively addressed one at a time but require holistic solutions. This we saw during the pandemic, when frontline "essential" workers had to expose themselves to Covid to keep making their hourly wages, and suffered disproportional health problems as a result. Child malnutrition--with accompanying damage to brain development--was exacerbated, and family stress has increased. There are solutions if American society is willing. We have the skills, not yet the will.

The Dying Constitution

Conservatives deride liberals for seeing the Constitution as a living document whose basic civil liberties provisions can be adapted to modern society. But those conservatives--most notably on the Supreme Court--are pulling constitutional interpretation backwards into the 1700s, which risks stifling those rights and suffocating the Constitution's soaring principles. The Framers were not so short-sighted; they wrote the text to enshrine rights as transcendent, recognizing that they could not imagine a world centuries hence. In many areas codified by the Bill of Rights, the country is losing the vibrant nature of what is, in fact, a living document--which is the reason that it has lived so long.

Israel and its Dangerous Middle East Neighborhood

Israel has gone through a transformation of its place in the Middle East. The Abraham Accords, negotiated under President Trump, established relations with more Arab countries and downgraded the Palestinian question. Iran's rising threat has propelled some Arab nations to see Israel as more of an ally than an adversary, on the understanding that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But where does that leave the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Is a two-state solution still possible? Is it fair to accuse Israel of apartheid in its treatment of Palestinians. A look at the clash of two nationalisms and the friction between two historical narratives, worsened buy a relatively recent religious component: extreme Islam vs. extreme Judaism.

The Decline of American Journalism

Gone are the days--almost gone--when you could turn on a broadcast, pick up a newspaper, or go to a website and get all sides of a controversy. The rise of opinionated "reporting" and the dwindling of balanced, fair-minded coverage is destined to damage the democracy, whose citizens rely on information untainted by bias and political distortion. Simultaneously, local news coverage has disappeared in many parts of the country as newspapers have closed, leaving a vacuum into which the most polarizing screeds have flowed. Why has this happened, and what can be done about it?

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