Jack Hitt

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Jack Hitt
OccupationAuthor, editor, journalist
SpouseLisa Sanders

Jack Hitt is an American author. He is a contributing editor to Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, and This American Life; he has also written for the now-defunct magazine Lingua Franca, and his work frequently appears in such publications as Outside Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Wired. In 1990, he received the Livingston Award, along with Paul Tough, for an article about computer hackers who gained access to the New York telephone system.[1][2] In 2006, a piece on the racist subtexts of a study on the first Americans[which?] was selected for Best American Science Writing,[when?] and another piece about dying languages[which?] appeared in Best American Travel Writing.[when?] Another piece, on the existential life of a superfund site, was included in Ira Glass's The New Kings of Nonfiction (2007).[3] In 2017 he cohosted the Gimlet Media podcast Uncivil along with Chenjerai Kumanyika.[4]


Early life[edit]

Hitt was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, where he attended the Porter-Gaud School. He attended 10th grade in 1973.[5] He got his start in journalism as editor of the Paper Clip, the literary magazine of Porter-Gaud's first through fifth grades. According to his biography, he published "some of the finest haiku penned by well-off pre-teens in all of South Carolina's lowcountry".[citation needed]

Writing and journalism career[edit]

Julie Snyder, Jack Hitt, Ira Glass and Torey Malatia accept the Peabody Award, June 2007

Since 1996, Hitt has also been a contributing editor to the radio series This American Life. He contributed a story about a production of Peter Pan in an episode entitled "Fiasco". Other pieces include "Dawn", about his life growing up with Dawn Langley Simmons (an early recipient of sex reassignment surgery), a 12-minute piece in episode 216 ("Give the People What They Want"), titled "How America Actually Got Its Name",[6] an hour-long program on a group of prisoners in a maximum security prison staging a production of Hamlet (“Act V”, episode #218), a segment on voter fraud in the 2008 American Presidential election ("Cold-cock The Vote", #276), another episode about his life in a New York apartment building in which his superintendent turned out to be the head of a death squad in Brazil (“The Super”, #323), and more recently a segment on the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay called "Habeas Schmabeas" (#331). This last program earned him the Peabody Award in 2006.[7]

Since 2007, Hitt has been one of two regular US correspondents on Nine to Noon, hosted by Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand National.[citation needed]

Jack is currently performing in a one-man show he wrote, called Making Up The Truth, about his childhood and the outlandish characters he's met in his life.[8]


Hitt was also a consultant for the movie Hackers (1995), regarding techniques of cyber crime.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to the physician and writer Lisa Sanders.[9]

His older brother, Robert M. Hitt III, is Secretary of Commerce for the State of South Carolina.


  • Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character (2012) ISBN 0-307-39375-5
  • In a Word: A Dictionary of Words That Don't Exist, But Ought To (1992) ISBN 0-440-50358-2
  • Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain (1994)[10]
  • Perfect Murder: Five Great Mystery Writers Create the Perfect Crime (1991), by Jack Hitt (Author), Lawrence Block (Author), Sarah Caudwell (Author) & Tony Hillerman (Contributor) ISBN 978-0060163402
  • What Are We Talking About?: The Harper's Forum Book (1991), by Jack Hitt (Author), Jack Hill (Author) & Lewis H. Lapman (Introduction) ISBN 978-0806512303


  1. ^ "Livingston Awards – Past Winners". Livingston Awards. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Zernike (June 7, 1991). "Winners Are Selected For Livingston Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  3. ^ The New Kings of Nonfiction (First ed.). Riverhead Books. 2007. ISBN 978-1594482670.
  4. ^ "Uncivil". Uncivil.
  5. ^ Quote: "When he was in the 10th grade in 1973, Jack Hitt saw her production."
  6. ^ "Give the People What They Want". This American Life.
  7. ^ "This American Life: "Habeas Schmabeas"". Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  8. ^ "Making Up The Truth". The Jack Hitt Play. Archived from the original on June 25, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  9. ^ Max, Jill (Spring 2008). "A doctor's passion for medical storytelling". Yale Medicine. 42 (3). Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  10. ^ Hitt, Jack (1994). Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain.

External links[edit]