Tracy Kidder
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTracy Kidder - Credit: Taylor Keegan

Putlizer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder was born in New York City in 1945 and grew up in Oyster Bay, Long Island. He first majored in Political Science at Harvard University, but switched to English after taking a creative writing class.

Kidder served in Vietnam between 1967 and 1969, and was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. After the war, Kidder attended the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop (1974). During that time, Kidder was commissioned by The Atlantic to cover a mass-murder trial in California; this reporting turned into Kidder's first book, The Road to Yuba City. The book was not critically successful, and years later Kidder said he was so ashamed of the work he did not want it published again.

By contrast his second book, The Soul of a New Machine (1981), won the Putlizer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1982. The book follows a team of engineers in their quest to build the next generation of computer.

Since then, Kidder has published seven works of nonfiction: House (1985), Among Schoolchildren (1990), Old Friends (1993), Home Town (1999), Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003), My Detachment: A Memoir (2005), and The Strength in What Remains (2009).

One common theme in Kidder's work is his emphasis on everyday, lived experience. In one interview, Kidder explained, "I'm a little suspicious of the great, overarching view. It always leaves something out. What interests me is trying to catch the reflection of the human being on the page. I'm interested in how ordinary people live their lives."

In addition to writing books, Kidder continues to work as a contributing editor for The Atlantic Monthly. He has also written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, and others.




Tracy Kidder discusses Mountains Beyond Mountains on NPR's All Things Considered.

Tracy Kidder's Op-Ed in the New York Times on Haiti called "Country Without a Net"