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Common Reader 2015-2016 Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis: Jeanne Marie Laskas

Jeanne Marie Laskas

JEANNE MARIE LASKAS is an American writer and professor. From 1994 until 2008 she was a regular, syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Magazine, where her "Significant Others" essays appeared weekly. She has written feature stories for GQ, where she is a correspondent. Formerly a Contributing Editor at Esquire, her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Sports Writing. She also is the voice behind "Ask Laskas" in Reader's Digest and writes the "My Life as a Mom" column for Ladies' Home Journal.  She has won more than a dozen Gold Quill awards for Excellence in Journalism, and her piece on coal mining, “Underworld,” was a finalist for the 2007 National Magazine Awards.

Education: University of Pittsburgh

News and Reviews

The PLACE title by Jeanne Marie Laskas is Hidden America

Laskas dives deep into her subjects and emerges with character-driven narratives that are gripping, funny, and revelatory. In Hidden America, the stories are about the people who make our lives run every day—and yet we barely think of them. 
Laskas spent weeks in an Ohio coal mine and on an Alaskan oil rig; in a Maine migrant labor camp, a Texas beef ranch, the air traffic control tower at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a California landfill, an Arizona gun shop, the cab of a long-haul truck in Iowa, and the stadium of the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders. Cheerleaders? Yes. They, too, are hidden America, and you will be amazed by what Laskas tells you about them: hidden no longer.

“Jeanne Marie Laskas has spent years finding and listening to the people we can’t do without, but sometimes forget are there. She went into the mines with miners, rode the range with the cowboys, talked with air traffic controllers, and went on the road with truckers. What they told her is at once heart-warming, funny, sad, ironic, and, most of all, insightful. She is a wonderful listener who gives us new and better perspective on what keeps America working. A fine piece of reporting and writing – a ride well worth taking.”

It’s not a stretch to use the name Studs Terkel in the same sentence with the name Jeanne Marie Laskas. She’s one hell of a journalist, a world-class storyteller who takes us where we may not want to go, then makes us grateful we took the trip. She gives voice to the voiceless and names to the nameless, and it still comes out reading like a novel. Hidden America is not just a good read, it’s an important one.”

Jeanne Marie Laskas