Boston Book Festival 2020 Boston Book Festival 2020

Public Affairs Keynote

- EDT
Crowdcast 30
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Nicholas D. Kristof
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope

Nicholas D. Kristof is a journalist, political commentator, and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He has coauthored several best selling books with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, including China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power; Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia; Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which was turned into an award winning PBS documentary and a game on Facebook with more than a million players, and A Path Appears: Transforming Lives Creating Opportunity, which was also turned into a PBS documentary. His latest book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, tells the story of working-class Americans to address the crisis that has resulted from half a century of government failure. Author Tara Westover calls it “A deft and uniquely credible exploration of rural America, and of other left-behind pockets of our country. One of the most important books I've read on the state of our disunion.”

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Sheryl WuDunn
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope

Sheryl WuDunn is a business executive, writer, lecturer, and the first Asian American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. WuDunn has co-authored several bestselling books with her husband, Nicholas Kristof, including China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power; Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia; Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which was turned into an award winning PBS documentary and a game on Facebook with more than a million players, and A Path Appears: Transforming Lives Creating Opportunity, which was also turned into a PBS documentary. Her latest book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, tells the story of working-class Americans in order to address the crisis that half a century of government failure has left us. Author Tara Westover calls it “A deft and uniquely credible exploration of rural America, and of other left-behind pockets of our country. One of the most important books I've read on the state of our disunion.”

Buy Tightrope

Arun Rath is host of 89.7 GBH’s All Things Considered and In It Together, a weeknight radio program exploring the effects of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. His distinguished career in public media includes work as a reporter, producer and editor. He started out as an intern at the NPR call-in program Talk of the Nation, eventually joining the staff and becoming the show's director. He later became senior producer for NPR's On the Media, produced by WNYC, where he was part of a team that tripled its audience and won a Peabody Award. As a senior reporter for the PBS series Frontline and for 89.7 GBH’s The World, Rath specialized in national security and military justice. He reported and produced three films for Frontline, the latest being an investigation of alleged war crimes committed by U.S. Marines in Haditha, Iraq. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Reed College.


New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and journalist Sheryl WuDunn sought out stories of the so-called personal failures of the working poor. Most of the stories are from Kristof’s hometown in rural Oregon, where one in four of his peers have died from substance abuse, suicide, accidents, or treatable medical issues. The resulting book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, is a companion piece to the works of Michael Sandel and Pete Buttigieg. It speaks of the self-hatred of those who tried but failed to keep afloat and who have bought into the lie perpetrated by elites that failure is their fault and not the fault of a system that is stacked against them. Kristof and WuDunn highlight programs that help and that could potentially scale. As they point out, this is no longer an issue of Republicans or Democrats. It’s all of us. Arun Rath, host of GBH’s All Things Considered, will lead the discussion.