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Ted Conover

Ted Conover

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Ted Conover is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 author and journalist. A graduate of Denver's Manual High School
Manual High School (Denver)
Manual High School is located in the Whittier neighborhood on the east side of Denver, Colorado.-Demographics:*5.6% white*40.9% African American*58.1% Latino*0% Native American*0.3% Asian- Manual Today :...

 and Amherst College
Amherst College
Amherst College is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,744 students in the fall of 2009...

 and a Marshall Scholar, he is also a distinguished writer-in-residence in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

. He teaches graduate courses in the Literary Reportage concentration and an undergraduate course on journalism and empathy.

Writing career


Conover's books of narrative nonfiction have typically been explorations of off-beat social worlds. He will often become an active participant in the subculture he is writing about. His first experiment with this melding of anthropological and journalistic method took place in 1980, when he rode freight railroads back and forth across the western United States with some of the last remaining hobo
Hobo
A hobo is a term which is often applied to a migratory worker or homeless vagabond, often penniless. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States during the last decade of the 19th century. Unlike 'tramps', who work only when they are forced to, and 'bums', who do not...

s. This experience, initially rendered as an ethnography for an honors thesis, became the basis of his first-person book, Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America's Hoboes (1984).

A few of those Conover met on the rails were Mexican nationals, and in his next book, Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders with America's Illegal Migrants (1987), he turned his attention to illegal immigrants, describing them as "the true modern-day incarnation of the classic American hobo." Conover spent a year traveling with Mexicans in order to write Coyotes; he lived in a "feeder" valley in the Mexican state of Querétaro
Querétaro
Querétaro officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Querétaro de Arteaga is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 18 municipalities and its capital city is Santiago de Querétaro....

, spent time in Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, and Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, and crossed the border three times. The 1987 book came out in a new edition in 2006 with a new preface and subtitle: "A Journey Across Borders With America's Mexican Migrants."

His next project, which he has stated he undertook in part to see whether the participatory approach could work with wealthier people, describes life in the mining-town-turned-lifestyle-capital of Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado
The City of Aspen is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 5,804 in 2005...

, where Conover worked as a driver for the Mellow Yellow Taxi Company, the Aspen Times, and for a catering company. The result was Whiteout: Lost in Aspen (1991).

A few years later, Conover took a job at Sing Sing prison in New York state, where he worked for nearly a year — without the state's knowledge — as a rookie correction officer. The resulting book, Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing
Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing
Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing is a non-fiction book by Ted Conover, published in 2000. In the book, Conover, a journalist and university professor, recounts his experience of learning about the New York State correctional system by becoming a correctional officer for nearly a year...

(2000), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 and won the 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award
National Book Critics Circle Award
The National Book Critics Circle Award is an annual award given by the National Book Critics Circle to promote the finest books and reviews published in English....

 in General Nonfiction, among other honors. For many months, prisoners and their visitors were banned from reading Newjack; now, inmates who receive a copy have to wait up to several months while the state redacts several pages that it considers a threat to security.

His most recent work is The Routes of Man: Travels in the Paved World (2011). Conover discussed it in the Paper Cuts blog of the New York Times Book Review.

In addition to books, much of Conover's work has been published in magazines. He frequently contributes to The New York Times Magazine
The New York Times Magazine
The New York Times Magazine is a Sunday magazine supplement included with the Sunday edition of The New York Times. It is host to feature articles longer than those typically in the newspaper and has attracted many notable contributors...

, The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

, The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic is an American magazine founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. It quickly achieved a national reputation, which it held for more than a century. It was important for recognizing and publishing new writers and poets,...

, National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic, formerly the National Geographic Magazine, is the official journal of the National Geographic Society. It published its first issue in 1888, just nine months after the Society itself was founded...

, Travel + Leisure
Travel + Leisure
Travel + Leisure is a travel magazine based in New York City, New York. Published 12 times a year, it has 4.8 million readers, according to its corporate media kit. It is put out by American Express Publishing Corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Express Company led by...

, and others. He is on the editorial board of the literary magazine The Common
The Common (Magazine)
The Common is a nonprofit biannual magazine based at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The magazine publishes stories, poems, essays, and images centered around "a modern sense of place." - History :...

, based at Amherst College
Amherst College
Amherst College is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,744 students in the fall of 2009...

, and published work in the debut issue.

External links