He was born in Buffalo, New York, where he attended City Honors School. Halpern later attended Yale University, where he received an undergraduate degree in 1997. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, the New Republic, Entertainment Weekly, Slate, Smithsonian, GQ, Sports Illustrated, New York Magazine and other publications.
Halpern is also a commentator and a freelance producer for National Public Radio's All Things Considered and a contributor to This American Life . Jake's hour-long radio story, "Switched at Birth," is on This American Life's "short list" as one of its top eight shows of all time.
His first book, Braving Home (ISBN 0-618-44662-1), considered the lives of Americans who actively chose to live in or near dangerous places like volcanoes. The book was a main selection for the Book of the Month Club by Bill Bryson and was a Library Journal “Book of the Year.” His second book, Fame Junkies (ISBN 0-618-45369-5), considers the psychological underpinnings of celebrity obsession, and was the basis for an original series on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
Currently two of Jake's stories are being developed into fictional dramatic series on HBO—one is being produced by Scott Rudin and the other by Brad Pitt's production company.
His first novel, Dormia, was published in the spring of 2009. The American Library Association hailed Dormia as a "wonderful intergenerational read" and a "strong choice for readers still mourning the end of the Harry Potter books." The second book of Dormia is called Worlds End. Barnes and Noble review explained it as,"This adventure is fantastic. The authors have written a story of great breadth and depth that can satisfy an adult and will cement a child's interest in this hidden world and the characters.(Barnes and Noble)
Halpern is a fellow of Morse College at Yale where he teaches a seminar on journalism.
- Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales, nonfiction (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003)
- Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths behind America's Favorite Addiction, nonfiction (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007)
- Dormia, fiction (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009)
- Bad Paper, nonfiction (2014)
- Jake Halpern's Home Page
- The official website for the novel, Dormia
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- This American Life Favorites
- Source: Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2005.
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