Dispatches and excerpts of my writing, including features which have appeared in my books and in publications such as the Smithsonian and TIME magazine.
In advance of the publication of Lines and Lineage by Radius Books, I’m posting selected excerpts. Most of the individuals photographed for the book also agreed to in-depth interviews about their identity and their family’s history. This is an excerpt from the interview of Liz Wallace, an indigenous woman of Nisenan Maidu and Diné descent. “So what happened was… read more.
In advance of the publication of Lines and Lineage by Radius Books, I’m posting selected excerpts. The second excerpt is from my own essay, titled “When Borders Crossed.” This section covers opposition to the Mexican American War and the origin of the California State flag: “In terms of land acquired for the nation, the Mexican American War is the… read more.
In advance of the publication of Lines and Lineage by Radius Books, I’m posting selected excerpts. The first one is the epigraph by John Steinbeck: “Once California belonged to Mexico and its land to Mexicans; and a horde of tattered feverish Americans poured in. And such was their hunger for land that they took the land, stole Sutter’s… read more.
One hundred years after the end of the First World War, I retraced the Western Front and examined how the conflict had touched my family. My journal and personal family photos were published as a mulltimedia feature by the Smithsonian to mark the centennial of the November 11, 1918 armistice. The travelogue is copied below. I. Inspiration I… read more.
Why I’m boycotting Facebook until they clean up their act Earlier this year, Facebook’s worldwide user base crested 1.7 billion people. That is equivalent to over 1 in 5 people on the planet. To put that in perspective, there are now more Facebook users than motor vehicles in use on Earth. If Facebook were a religion, it would have already… read more.
The shrill threat of “thermonuclear war” from Pyongyang is only the latest in a long line of doomsday scenarios against which South Korea has braced itself. Over the years, numerous layers of defensive infrastructure have been added to prepare for possible attacks, ranging from bunkers to early-warning radar. Perhaps the most unexpected of these defenses is the “Peace Dam,” a… read more.
Earlier this year I sat down in NYC with Philip Gourevitch, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, to discuss life along North Korea’s borders. In 2003, Gourevitch wrote Alone in the Dark, a fascinating article which pieces together what life was like under Kim Jong Il. You can read the transcript of our in-depth discussion, listen to an… read more.
Journey to North Korea, Part III: The NoKo Chocolate Factory By Tomas van Houtryve On the ﬁnal day of my first trip to North Korea, my guides reached out to me. “We are trying very hard to get investors into the DPRK.” They asked me to recruit people at home interested in doing business in North Korea. I already had… read more.
Journey to North Korea, Part II: The Packrat Dictatorship By Tomas van Houtryve After dinner at the end of my second day, I was pulled aside by my guides. The interrogation lasted for four hours. The most grim-looking of our minders, Mr. Chung (I have changed the names of my North Korean minders for their protection), was bad cop. “We… read more.