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John Tracy Kidder (born November 12, 1945) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Americanmarker writer of the 1981 nonfiction narrative, The Soul of a New Machine, about the creation of a new computer at Data General Corporation.His book, Strength in What Remains, the story of a Burundian genocide survivor, was released August 25, 2009.

Early life and education

Kidder was born November 12, 1945 in New York Citymarker.He graduated from Phillips Academymarker in 1963.He attended Harvard Universitymarker, originally majoring in political science, but switched to English after taking a course in creative writing from Robert Fitzgerald.He received an AB degree from Harvard in 1967.

He served in the US Army as a first lieutenant, Military Intelligence, Vietnam, from 1967 to 1969. After returning from Vietnam he wrote for some time and then enrolled in the Iowa Writers' Workshopmarker.He received an MFA degree from the University of Iowamarker in 1974.


Kidder wrote his first book, The Road to Yuba City, while at the University of Iowamarker. The Atlantic Monthly commissioned the work, and he continued writing as a freelance for the magazine during the 1970s. The Road to Yuba City was a critical failure, and Kidder said in a 1995 interview that "I can't say anything intelligent about that book, except that I learned never to write about a murder case. The whole experience was disgusting, so disgusting, in fact, that in 1981 I went to Doubleday and bought back the rights to the book. I don't want The Road to Yuba City to see the light of day again."

Kidder said that, unlike many other writers, he was not much influenced by his Vietnam experience: "Of course, whenever you're in an experience like Vietnam, it is bound to influence your work; it's inevitable, but I really don't think it greatly shaped me as a writer." His works for Atlantic Monthly include several essays and short stories about the Vietnam War, including "The Death of Major Great" (1974), "Soldiers of Misfortune" (1978), and "In Quarantine" (1980). Writing in 1997, David Bennett rated these three pieces "among the finest reporting to come out of Vietnam".

His second book, The Soul of a New Machine, was much more successful than his first, and won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction in 1982. He has continued to write nonfiction books and articles and these have been well received by the critics.

Kidder is considered a literary journalist because of the strong story line and personal voice in his writing.He has cited as his writing influences John McPhee, A. J. Liebling, and George Orwell. In a 1984 interview he said, "McPhee has been my model. He's the most elegant of all the journalists writing today, I think."

Kidder wrote in a 1994 essay, "In fiction, believability may have nothing to do with reality or even plausibility. It has everything to do with those things in nonfiction. I think that the nonfiction writer's fundamental job is to make what is true believable."

Selected awards

Books by Tracy Kidder


External links

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