a few words about me


I have spent most of the past decade working as an independent journalist, writing feature articles about immigration, labor, and organizing for a variety of publications that include the New York Times, Harper’s, New York, Mother Jones, and The Nation. Links to most of my writings can be found under the “articles” tab.

My most recent feature, “Burn After Reading,” looked at the strange history of The Anarchist Cookbook. Investigative projects have focused on child farmworkers who harvest tobacco, an undercover look at the temp warehouse workers who make online shopping possible, and the largely invisible Latino immigrants who are the backbone of the golf industry. That last one was for Golf Digest, and won the Sidney Award for “socially-conscious journalism.” You can hear me talk to WNYC’s Leonard Lopate about the tobacco article here; to NPR’s Morning Edition about the warehouse piece here; or to Marketplace about the golf story here.

My most recent book is Working in the Shadows (Nation Books, 2010), which chronicles a year I spent working undercover within industries dominated by undocumented immigrants. (That’s me above, harvesting lettuce in Arizona.) Publisher’s Weekly called the book “a stirring look at the bottom rung of America’s economic ladder,” while United Farm Worker co-founder Dolores Huerta called it “a triumph–and a call to arms.” You can learn more about the book here, and watch a short video dispatch from the lettuce fields here.

I’m also the author of two other books. There’s No José Here: Following the Hidden Lives of Mexican Immigrants is narrative non-fiction, exploring the struggles of a family from southern Mexico that settled down in Brooklyn. Calling All Radicals: How Grassroots Organizers Can Help Save Our Democracy is a combined memoir and guidebook to organizing. More information about these titles can be found under the “books” tab.

I have been interviewed for various national television and radio programs, including CNN, MSNBC, PBS, Current TV, and several NPR programs. I’ve received the Richard J. Margolis Award, the Studs Terkel Media Award, the Sidney Hillman Award, and two Independent Press Association awards. I’m very lucky to have received critical support for my reporting from the Investigative Fund and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. In the fall of 2015 I’ll be a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University, where I will be completing a biography of legendary community organizer Fred Ross.