Nicholas Lemann began his journalism career at seventeen as a writer for an alternative weekly newspaper in New Orleans, the Vieux Carre Courier. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1976, where he concentrated in American history and literature and was President of the Harvard Crimson. After graduation, he worked at The Washington Monthly as an Associate Editor and then Managing Editor, at Texas Monthly as an Associate Editor and then Executive Editor, at The Washington Post as a member of the national staff, at The Atlantic Monthly as a national correspondent, and at The New Yorker as staff writer and then Washington correspondent.

In 2003, he became dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. He stepped down in 2013 and returned to the Journalism School’s faculty. Lemann continues to contribute to The New Yorker as a staff writer. He has published five books, most recently Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007); The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), which helped lead to a major reform of the SAT; and The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (Vintage, 1992), which won several book prizes. He has written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and Slate; worked in documentary television with Blackside, Inc., FRONTLINE, the Discovery Channel, and the BBC; and lectured at many universities. He delivered the Joanna Jackson Goldman Lectures in American Civilization and Government at the New York Public Library in 2004 and the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Stanford University in 2014. Lemann has served on the boards of the Authors Guild, the National Academy of Sciences’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, and the Academy of Political Science, the Society of American Historians, and the Russell Sage Foundation, and is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.

Last Updated: May 2, 2014



What Should the U.S. Do about China’s Barring Foreign Reporters?

Nicholas Lemann, Michel Hockx & more
Last week, the White House said it was “very disappointed” in China for denying a visa to another journalist working for The New York Times in Beijing, forcing him to leave the country after eight years. What else should the U.S. government...