Writing

Dispatches and excerpts of my writing, including features which have appeared in my books and in publications such as the Smithsonian and TIME magazine.


Lines and Lineage book excerpt #3, Liz Wallace tells of bounties put on the heads of natives

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.


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Lines and Lineage book excerpt #2, the dark history of California’s Bear Flag

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.


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Lines and Lineage book excerpt #1, the Steinbeck epigraph

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.


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Smithsonian feature: The Scars of World War I

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.


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Why I’m boycotting Facebook until they clean up their act

Facebook Office

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.


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North Korea and the Killer Deluge

Peace Dam DMZ Korea

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.


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Stuck in Neutral: Swiss Mission in the DMZ keeps fragile ties with North Korea

Deep inside the DMZ, nestled within two meters of the border with North Korea is an improbable cluster of buildings which resemble giant Swiss Army knives. The oblong cabins are painted bright red and several are marked with a white cross. One almost expects an outsized blade and a bottle opener to swing out of the top. Between the cabins…  read more.


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What exactly is going on along the North Korean border?

Deciphering North Korea has never been an easy task, and with the recent rise of a secretive third-generation Kim family dictator, the quest seems more relevant than ever. As photographer, I’ve been fascinated with North Korea for years. I visited Pyongyang twice, but there was a limit of how much I could see or learn from the inside. Next, my…  read more.


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Discussing life under Kim Jong Il’s rule with Philip Gourevitch

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.


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