William Greider’s 40-year career as a reporter and best-selling author brought him in close proximity to very powerful people, from the White House to Wall Street, from major multinational corporations to the Federal Reserve and its awesome governing powers. Yet Greider’s distinctive quality is his critical perspective. He examines power – who has it, who doesn’t – in behalf of the ordinary Americans who are distant from the inner circles of America’s governing elites.
He is the national affairs correspondent for The Nation, the country’s oldest and largest political weekly. His career has spanned newspapers small and large, magazines, public television and books. He writes about capitalism and about democracy and explains how these two value systems are in collision.
After the Army, Greider started his career at a very small daily newspaper, the Wheaton Daily Journal in Wheaton, Illinois, where he covered everything from school board meetings to murders. From there, he moved up to the Louisville Times in Louisville, Kentucky, and then became Washington correspondent for the Times and Courier-Journal. He and his wife, Linda Greider, also a writer, have lived in the nation’s capital since 1966.
Greider joined the national staff of the Washington Post in 1968 and was a correspondent for a dozen years, eventually becoming the assistant managing editor directing national coverage. He also edited Outlook, the Post’s Sunday opinion section, and wrote a weekly column called "Against the Grain."
In 1981, he wrote a controversial account of the Reagan administration titled "The Education of David Stockman," based on a series of private interviews with Reagan’s budget director. Published in the Atlantic Monthly, the article revealed the fallacies and contradictions of Reaganomics in intimate detail and caused a sensation among Washington politicians and policy makers. An expanded version became Greider’s first book,The Education of David Stockman and Other Americans (Dutton 1982).
Next Greider made a surprising career move. He left the prestigious Washington Post and elite circles in Washington to join Rolling Stone, the magazine of popular culture. For the next 17 years, Greider wrote a regular political column for Rolling Stone while he produced a string of best-selling books.
Jumping from Washington insider to writing for a much larger national audience of young readers was a crucial step, Greider said, in developing his own critical perspective. "I learned how to explain the complexities of politics and government with clarity and without the condescension that’s typical of the mainstream media," he explained. "Newspapers talk down to average readers, without knowing it. They do not respect the intelligence of ordinary citizens or explain the deeper context of power politics in ways people could understand. I made a personal commitment to do that for them in Rolling Stone and my books."
of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (Simon and Schuster 1987) is Greider’s monumental account of how the American central bank, cloistered and protected from public accountability, exercises its control over the US economy – workers, consumers, investors. The book has sold 300,000 copies and remains in print 20 years later. Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy (1992) is a close-in account of how politics and representative self-government have become deformed and decayed. Washington rejected the analysis, not surprisingly, but the book was on the New York Times bestseller list for 20 weeks. The deterioration Greider describes has only gotten worse since then. The book was reissued in 2006 (Touchstone paperback) with a new forward by the author.
One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (1997) explained the dynamics of the globalizing economy and predicted the financial disorders that followed a few years later as well as the huge trade deficits and foreign indebtedness that now burden the US. Based on reporting on three continents, the book explores the drama of industrial revolution, from peasants becoming industrial workers to the highest realms of global finance. The book was published in six foreign countri
es including China.
Fortress America: The American Military and the Consequences of Peace (Public Affairs 1998). This short book grew out of a series of articles in Rolling Stone, finalist in the National Magazine Awards. Touring the armed services and the manufacturing side of the military-industrial complex, Greider explained the post-Cold War dilemmas for a massive armed country in search of a war.
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy (Simon and Schuster 2003) makes this provocative assertion: US capitalism can be reformed in profound ways and people in and out of the system are working on it. From financial investing to worker ownership, Greider explained the qualities within capitalism that lead to its destructive dominance of American society and showed the leverage points by which these can be altered.
His latest book – Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country (Rodale 2009) – describes the epic turning point in our nation’s history driven by financial crisis, economic deterioration and other fundamental adversities. The country faces a hard passage ahead. The fateful question is whether we can emerge on other side as a better country with more-fulfilling, self-directed lives for all. This is possible, the book insists, but only if the people themselves step up and reclaim their role as citizens in the full meaning.
Greider has also served as on-air correspondent for six documentary films for PBS Frontline, including ‘Retreat from Beirut" which won an Emmy in 1985.