Home Journalism Alexander Stille

Alexander Stille

San Paolo Professor of International Journalism

Expertise: Writing international affairs, politics

Professor Stille graduated with a B.A. from Yale University and earned an M.S. in Colombia. He has worked for The New York Times, La Repubblica, The New Yorker Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Correspondent, US News & World Report, The Boston Globe and Toronto Globe and Mail.

He is the author of Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism (1991); “Excellent Carcasses: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic” (1995); “The Future of the Past” (2002); and “The Sack of Rome: How a beautiful European country with a fabulous history and a storied culture was taken over by a man named Silvio Berlusconi” (2006).

Stille is the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Best Work in History (1992), Premio Acqui (1992), San Francisco Chronicle Critics Choice Award (1995), and the Alicia Patterson Foundation Award for Journalism (1996).


E-Mail: as786@columbia.edu Telephone: 212-854-1611 Büro: 302C Pulitzer

Classes taught

Journalism of ideas

Several newspapers and magazines have established an 'ideas' beat in recent years, trying to look beyond the news and spot trends in the changing way we think about the world. Malcolm Gladwell ('The Tipping Point') and James Surowiecki ('The Wisdom of Crowds') or Farhad Manjoo from the New Yorker, first at Slate and now at The New York Times, have cleverly combined social science research and journalism into a highly successful mixture, while the economist Steven Levitt started a big trend of social scientists who want to reach a mass audience with 'Freakonomics'. Traditional newspapers like The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times have all experimented with incorporating ideas into their newspapers on a regular basis, and a lot of analysis on major news websites from Salon, Slate, and the Huffington Post fall into this category. Columnists like David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof routinely browse the world of social sciences to animate and add substance to their work.

M.A. Politik-Herbstseminar

In autumn, students in the M.A. Politics know how the nation state came into being - why it prevailed over sprawling, multi-ethnic empires or city-states. We use this rich scholarship to understand why there is no coherent central state in Afghanistan or Somalia. Students learn the origins of nationalism: why are people willing to die - and kill - for something (the nation) that made little sense to people of earlier centuries? They use this understanding to decipher emerging situations of ethnic conflict, resurgent nationalism, and populism. The seminar also examines the dynamics of collective behavior - what happens when people come together to effect change, and under what circumstances do political and social movements succeed or fail? Scientists from relevant disciplines and journalists regularly visit the class on these topics. The youngest guests included behavioral economist Robert Frank, journalist William Finnegan, and historian Mahmood Mamdani.

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