Anne Nelson

Journalist & Nonfiction Author
Guggenheim Fellow
Travels from: New York, NY

“Fascinating . . . You can’t convert anxiety into votes without cash, and Nelson does an excellent job following the money . . . Shadow Network is bound to appeal to those whose interest in politics run deep, but it’s not so inside baseball that lay readers will be stuck in the weeds. . . . Readers curious about how the American right gets its message out will find much to admire in it.” – NPR.org

Anne Nelson is an author and lecturer in the fields of international affairs, media and human rights. As a journalist she covered the conflicts in El Salvador and Guatemala, and won the Livingston Award for best international reporting from the Philippines. She served as the director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 1995 she became the director the international program at the Columbia School of Journalism, where she created the first curriculum in human rights reporting.

Since 2003 Nelson has been teaching at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where her classes and research explore how digital media can support the underserved populations of the world through public health, education and culture.

Nelson is a widely published author. Her 2009 book Red Orchestra describes the way media was used for both propaganda and resistance in Nazi Germany, and was published to wide acclaim in the U.S. and Germany. In October 2017, Simon & Schuster published her book Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris, telling the story of a rescue network in Paris that saved hundreds of Jewish children from deportation.  The Wall Street Journal praised the way the book “vividly dramatizes the stakes of acting morally in a time of brutality.” It was named a finalist in the National Jewish Book Awards.

Nelson’s most recent book is Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right (Bloomsbury, Oct 2019). The book chronicles the astonishing history of political secrecy and illuminates the key figures and their tactics. She traces how the collapse of American local journalism laid the foundation for the Council for National Policy’s information war and listens in on the hardline broadcasting its members control. And she reveals how the group has collaborated with the Koch brothers to outfit Radical Right organizations with state-of-the-art apps and a shared pool of captured voter data – outmaneuvering the Democratic Party in a digital arms race whose result has yet to be decided.

Nelson’s play “The Guys,” based on her experiences following the September 11th attacks, has been produced in all fifty states, fifteen countries, and as a feature film. It has been widely used to fund local fire departments and related causes such as trauma counseling and burn treatment centers.

Nelson is a graduate of Yale University, a 2005 Guggenheim fellow, and a 2013 Bellagio Fellow. She is a fellow at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia, and a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Prepare an Invitation for:

Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right

Bloomsbury Publishing |
Nonfiction

“Reveals a political trend that threatens both our form of government and our species.” – Timothy Snyder, author of ON TYRANNY

“Riveting…. Want to understand how so many Americans turned against truth? Read this book.” Nancy Maclean, author of DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS

In 1981, emboldened by Ronald Reagan’s election, a group of some fifty Republican operatives, evangelicals, oil barons, and gun lobbyists met in a Washington suburb to coordinate their attack on civil liberties and the social safety net. They called their coalition the Council for National Policy. Over four decades, this elite club has become a strategic nerve center for channeling money and mobilizing votes. Its secretive membership rolls represent a high-powered roster of fundamentalists, oligarchs, and their allies, from Oliver North, Ed Meese, and Tim LaHaye in the Council’s early days to Kellyanne Conway, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, and the DeVos and Mercer families today.

In Shadow Network, award-winning author and media analyst Anne Nelson chronicles this astonishing history and illuminates the coalition’s key figures and their tactics. She traces how the collapse of local journalism laid the foundation for the Council for National Policy’s information war and listens in on the hardline broadcasting its members control. And she reveals how the group has collaborated with the Koch brothers to outfit Radical Right organizations with state-of-the-art apps and a shared pool of captured voter data – outmaneuvering the Democratic Party in a digital arms race whose result has yet to be decided.

In a time of stark and growing threats to our most valued institutions and democratic freedoms, Shadow Network is essential reading.

Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris

Simon & Schuster |
Nonfiction
One of the untold stories of the Holocaust—the nail-biting drama of Suzanne Spaak, who risked and gave her life to save hundreds of Jewish children from deportation from Nazi Paris to Auschwitz “vividly dramatizes the stakes of acting morally in a time of brutality” (The Wall Street Journal).

Suzanne Spaak was born into the Belgian Catholic elite and married into the country’s leading political family. Her brother-in-law was the Foreign Minister and her husband Claude was a playwright and patron of the painter Renée Magritte. In Paris in the late 1930s her friendship with a Polish Jewish refugee led her to her life’s purpose. When France fell and the Nazis occupied Paris, she joined the Resistance. She used her fortune and social status to enlist allies among wealthy Parisians and church groups. Then, under the eyes of the Gestapo, Suzanne and women from the Jewish and Christian resistance groups “kidnapped” hundreds of Jewish children to save them from the gas chambers.

Suzanne’s Children is the “dogged…page-turning account” (Kirkus Reviews) of this incredible story of courage in the face of evil. “Anne Nelson is superb at showing the upheavals in Europe since WWI through vivid, illuminating details…and she also masterfully describes the incremental changes in the Jews’ plight under the Occupation” (Booklist). It was during the final year of the Occupation when Suzanne was caught in the Gestapo dragnet that was pursuing a Soviet agent she had aided. She was executed shortly before the liberation of Paris. Suzanne Spaak is honored in Israel as one of the Righteous Among Nations. Nelson’s “heartfelt story is almost a model for how popular history should be written; it will satisfy lovers of history, Jewish history in particular” (Library Journal).

The Guys: A Play

Random House Trade Paperbacks |
Play

First performed in a hit off-off-Broadway production, and soon to be a film starring Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia, The Guys is a timeless drama about the surprising truths people can discover in ordinary lives, and the connections we make with others and ourselves in times of tragedy.

Paralyzed by grief and unable to put his thoughts into words, Nick, a fire captain, seeks out the help of a writer to compose eulogies for the colleagues and friends he lost in the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001. As Joan, an editor by trade, draws Nick out about “the guys,” powerful profiles emerge, revealing vivid personalities and the substance and meaning that lie beneath the surface of seemingly unremarkable people. As the individual talents and enthusiasms of the people within the small firehouse community are realized, we come to understand the uniqueness and value of what each person has to contribute. And Nick and Joan, two people who under normal circumstances never would have met, jump the well-defined tracks of their own lives, and so learn about themselves, about life, and about the healing power of human connection, through talking about the guys.

Shadow Network: How the Radical Right Took Over the GOP and the White House, through Money, Media, and a 40-Year Strategy

Data, Apps and Votes: How Digital Technology has been Revolutionizing (and Gaming) American Politics

“Something Must Be Done”: How a Shy Housewife Led a Band of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish Women in the Rescue of 500 Jewish Children from Deportation in Occupied Paris

Civil Courage in Extremis: the Men and Women of the Red Orchestra and their Defiance of Hitler from the Heart of Berlin

Maintaining Civility in an Age of Conflict: Using the Tools of Drama, Journalism, and Human Rights Advocacy for Respectful Interactions

Twenty Years Later: September 11th, “The Guys,” and Lessons from our Firefighters

Faith in America: Making Sense of the Religions that Divide and Unite Us

Custom Keynotes Upon Request

Anne’s News Analysis and Links

Anne’s work in Film & Theater

Ann’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

National Jewish Book Award
The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow

Media Kit

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