About Me



I was a reporter at newspapers and magazines for 30 years, most recently at the Los Angeles Times where I was a national reporter based in L.A. In various newspaper jobs I’ve covered county zoning boards, state legislatures, and the culture of the Los Angeles Police Department. I’ve specialized in long-term projects, often immersing myself in an assignment for months or occasionally years.  I’ve written on an enormous range of subjects: radical Islam; the financing, design and construction of skyscrapers; the search for a rare blood molecule; the California Dream; and growing coffee in Indonesia among them. I try to write stories that are heavily reported, textured, place-based and complex, written in a strong, distinctive voice. I’ve won numerous journalism awards from a variety of organizations, including those that honor writing about economics, science and foreign affairs.

I’m a native of Iowa. In addition to journalism, I have  worked as a carpenter, a political campaign manager and an interpreter of satellite  reconnaissance imagery in the U.S. Air Force. I have a graduate degree in urban studies. While a metro columnist at the Seattle Times, I published a serial mystery novel about the disappearance of Bill Gates. I live in southern California.


PERFECT SOLDIERS – The Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It,  HarperCollin, 2005.

101 THEORY DRIVE: A Scientist’s Pursuit of Memory Pantheon, April, 2010.

THE HUNT FOR KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, co-authored by Josh Meyer, Little Brown March, 2012.

OFF SPEED: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception, Pantheon, May, 2017.


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