James Fallows is an American print and radio journalist who has been associated with The Atlantic Monthly for many years and has written nine books. His work has appeared in Slate, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The American Prospect, and other magazines. He was also one of Nader's Raiders at Public Citizen and Jimmy Carter's chief speechwriter for the first two years of his presidency, the youngest person to ever hold that job, being two months younger at the time than Jon Favreau, Barack Obama's speechwriter.
Fallows was raised in Redlands, California, and graduated from Redlands High School. He studied American history and literature at Harvard College, where he was the editor of the daily newspaper, the Harvard Crimson. From 1970 to 1972 Fallows studied economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. He subsequently worked as an editor and writer for the Washington Monthly and Texas Monthly magazines. For the first two years of the Carter administration he was Carter's chief speechwriter. From 1979 through 1996, Fallows was the Washington Editor for The Atlantic Monthly. For two years of that time he was based in Texas, and for four years in Asia. He wrote for the magazine about immigration, defense policy, politics, economics, computer technology, and other subjects. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and won in 2003, for "The Fifty-First State?" (The Atlantic, November 2002), which was published six months before the invasion of Iraq and laid out the difficulties of occupying the country. He won the American Book Award, for National Defense.
Fallows's most influential articles have concerned military policy and military procurement, the college admissions process, technology, China and Japan, and the American war in Iraq. Early in his career, he wrote an article called "What Did You Do in the Class War, Daddy?" (Washington Monthly, October 1975). It described the "draft physical" day at the Boston Navy Yard in 1970, in which Fallows and his Harvard and MIT classmates overwhelmingly produced reasons for medical exemptions, while the white working-class men of Chelsea were approved for service. He argued that the class bias of the Vietnam draft, which made it easy for influential and affluent families to avoid service, prolonged the war and that this was a truth many opponents of the war found convenient to overlook.