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|Born||Eric Matthew Schlosser
August 17, 1959
New York City
|Occupation||Non-fiction writer, Journalist|
|Alma mater||Princeton University|
|Notable works||Fast Food Nation (2000)
Reefer Madness (2003)
Chew On This (2006, with Charles Wilson)
Command and Control (2013)
|Spouse||Shauna Jean Redford (m. 1985; 2 children)|
Eric Matthew Schlosser (born August 17, 1959) is an American journalist and author known for investigative journalism, such as in his books Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness, Chew On This and Command and Control.
Schlosser was born in Manhattan, New York; he spent his childhood there and in Los Angeles, California. His parents are Judith (née Gassner) and Herbert Schlosser, a former Wall Street lawyer who turned to broadcasting later in his career, eventually becoming the President of NBC in 1974.
Schlosser studied American History at Princeton University and earned a graduate degree in British Imperial History from Oxford. Schlosser lives in California with his wife, Shauna Jean Redford, daughter of Robert Redford, and has two children.
As an aspiring playwright, Schlosser wrote the play Americans in 1985. It deals with the theme of American imperialism at the beginning of the 20th century, and features Leon Czolgosz, William McKinley's assassin, who shoots the President in anger over U.S. occupation of the Philippines. Americans was produced in 2003, but is not available in the United States. We the People, another play drawing on American history—in this case, the events surrounding the writing of the United States Constitution—followed in 2007.
Schlosser started his career as a journalist with The Atlantic Monthly in Boston, Massachusetts. He quickly gained recognition for his investigative pieces, earning two awards within two years of joining the staff; he won the National Magazine Award for reporting for his two-part series "Reefer Madness" and "Marijuana and the Law" (Atlantic Monthly, August and September, 1994), and he won the Sidney Hillman Foundation award for his article, "In the Strawberry Fields" (Atlantic Monthly, November 19, 1995). In addition to the Atlantic Monthly, Schlosser's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Nation.
Schlosser is known for his bestselling book Fast Food Nation, an exposé on the unsanitary and discriminatory practices of the fast food industry. Fast Food Nation evolved from a two-part article in Rolling Stone. Schlosser helped adapt his book into a 2006 film directed by Richard Linklater. The film opened November 19, 2006. He has written Chew On This (2006, with Charles Wilson).
He has also written the 2003 book Reefer Madness, a three part book that discusses the history and current trade of marijuana, the use of migrant workers in California strawberry fields, and the American pornography industry and its history. In 2004, Schlosser wrote the introduction to a new edition of The Monkey Wrench Gang, a novel by Edward Abbey. (Robert Redford, his father in law, wrote the preface.)
Schlosser's book Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety was published in September 2013. It focuses on the 1980 Damascus, Arkansas incident, a non-nuclear explosion of a Titan II missile in 1980. In support of marketing this book, Schlosser appeared on Book TV's After Words.
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Schlosser's work has received positive reviews from across the political spectrum. William F. Buckley gave Reefer Madness a favorable review, as did BusinessWeek and The Financial Times. Buckley wrote: "Eric Schlosser of The Atlantic Monthly has published a deeply informative and readable book called Reefer Madness. He wonderfully illustrates the complexity, contradiction, and futility of extant drug laws." Buckley was even inspired by Schlosser's book to say that although a 'fresh look" at these laws was called for, "Presumably that will have to happen when state legislators, congressmen, and presidents are in recess, because the great enemy of sensible reform has been, of course, politicians high from righteousness."
Fortune called Fast Food Nation the "Best Business Book of the Year" in 2001. Schlosser's work has been required reading for the entire incoming freshman class at Louisiana State University and Holy Cross.
Command and Control was reviewed in The New Yorker by Louis Menand, who called it “Excellent" and "hair-raising" and declared that "Command and Control is how nonfiction should be written.” The book has also been praised by science historian Steven Shapin in London Review of Books. It was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for History.
Schlosser appeared in an interview for the DVD of Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, having a one-on-one discussion with the filmmaker about the fast-food industry. He declined to appear in the film itself. He made a public appearance along with Robert Kenner, Alice Waters, Gary Hirshberg, and Marcel Van Ooyen on June 5, 2009 at the Times Center in NYC following the screening of his new film Food, Inc. presented by the Museum of the Moving Image. Food Inc. explores the way the American food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. Owen Gleiberman, film critic for Entertainment Weekly, wrote "I'm not generally in the habit of praising documentaries for being good for you, but Food, Inc. is more than a terrific movie—it's an important movie, one that nourishes your knowledge of how the world works (or, in this case, has started not to work)."
Schlosser also served as co-executive producer on the award-winning 2007 film There Will Be Blood.
Food industry's reaction to Schlosser's work
In May 2006, Schlosser and co-author Charles Wilson released a children's book entitled Chew On This. The book, along with increasing publicity for the Hollywood movie based on Fast Food Nation, resulted in 18 food industry associations launching the www.bestfoodnation.com website as part of a major public relations campaign. The site, which is no longer in operation, presented statements about health and labor practices in the American beef, pork, dairy, potato and other industries.
When asked how much cooperation the meatpacking and fast food industries lent to his research of Fast Food Nation, Schlosser said the following: "None of the major meatpacking companies allowed me to visit their facilities. McDonald's was not at all helpful. The industry, on the whole, didn't roll out a welcome mat. But many of the workers at fast food restaurants and meatpacking plants were eager to talk with me. They felt that their stories had not yet been told, and they wanted the world to know what was happening. Their help made Fast Food Nation possible."
As a result of Schlosser's criticisms of the food industry, he has been the target of criticism at his book signings and public speaking events. He believes such criticism to be the work of citizens employed by large food corporations. He has openly challenged many of the food corporations he feels responsible for tainting America's food system to public debates regarding their policies and regulations. All such invitations have been declined with the exception of one British McDonald's executive.
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- Seabrook, John. "Dept. of Second Chances: A Mothballed Mural". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
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- Greta Johnsen. "Five Books To Read This Fall".
Release date: September 17
- Walter Russell Mead (2013-09-12). "Atomic Gaffes —"Command and Control," by Eric Schlosser". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
- McKinley, James (2012-10-05). "‘Fast Food Nation’ Author Will Return With Book on Nuclear Weapons". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
- "After Words - After Words: Eric Schlosser, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety," hosted by Lynn Davis, D.C. Director of RAND". Book TV. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
- Falconer, Morgan, "Eric Schlosser on why he’s giving up food", Sunday Times (London), February 5, 2010
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- "Q & A: Eric Schlosser, author of 'Fast Food Nation,' on the state of the American food system . NOW on PBS". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
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- Janet Adamy and Richard Gibson, Flak Over 'Fast Food Nation' U.S. Food Manufacturers Rally To Oppose a Film and a Book That Blame Them for Obesity, May 18, 2006.
- Crain's Chicago Business, Authors and McDonald's Exchange More Volleys, June 2, 2006
- Best Food Nation: What Others are Saying (Accessed July 26, 2006)
- Commencement address at DePauw University, May 22, 2005
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- (pdf) Biography at Royce Carlton Publishers, December 11, 2006 (archived 2006)
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- (MS Word) Biography at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, December 11, 2006
- Ubben Lecture at DePauw University
- Session I: "Moving Beyond Fast Food Nation" (University Channel audio/video) This is the opening session of a Princeton University conference on "Food, Ethics and the Environment", with Peter Singer. Eric Schlosser is introduced at minute 30:30.
- Booknotes interview with Schlosser on Reefer Madness, June 15, 2003
- The Bat Segundo Show (56 minute radio interview). September 24, 2013.
- excerpt from Command and Control