Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels

Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels

by Adam Hochschild

Paperback(Revised ed.)

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For some 30 years, Adam Hochschild's voice has been one of the most distinctive in American journalism. With grace and wit, he has brought to a startling variety of subjects a combination of adventurous reporting and personal honesty. Hochschild's readers can count on an unobtrusive erudition, a sense of justice, and an irrepressible curiosity about life.

Admirers of Hochschild's Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son will find in these articles the same warm autobiographical voice that made that book so memorable: He revisits his time as a civil rights worker in Mississippi, as a New England prep school student, and as a teenager seeing apartheid firsthand in South Africa. But readers will find much more as well: profiles of an adoptive Gypsy and of a governor general's son turned revolutionary, essays about Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy, a journey to one of the most remote corners of the Amazon rain forest, and a remarkable evocation of two of Hochschild's personal heroes-who, in hillside trenches at the height of the Russian Civil War, faced each other across a battlefield.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780815605942
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Publication date: 03/28/1999
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. After graduating from college, he worked as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco, and as an editor and writer at Ramparts magazine. In the mid-1970s, he was a cofounder of Mother Jones magazine and was an editor there until 1981. He is the author The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin, The Mirror at Midnight A South African Journey, and Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son. His articles and reviews have appeared in many publications, including Mother Jones, Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, and The Washington Post.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

October 5, 1942

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


A.B., Harvard College, 1963

Read an Excerpt

Unlike other mammals, writers are not born into the world knowing how to make their own particular noise. Almost from the beginning, wolves howl, hogs grunt, bears growl. They need no MFA programs in growling, or summer workshops in discovering the grunt within. Even if separated from their families at birth and raised by some other species, they still know the right sound. But writers are different: all too easily they mistake someone else's sound for their own. For many years, that's what happened with me.

What People are Saying About This

Carl H. Klaus

From the mid-sixties to the mid-nineties, from Mississippi to Moscow, Adam Hochschild has been on the front lines (and behind the scenes), bringing back vividly detailed stories that he tells with the skill of a raconteur, the sincerity of a personal essayist, and the conscience of a latter-day Orwell. I heartily recommend Hochschild as a guide to finding the trapdoor in a world of ticky places. -- (Carl H. Klaus, founder, Program in Non-Fiction, University of Iowa)

Studs Terkel

This remarkable memoir in one voice, Adam Hochschild's, reflects a chorus of voices--of outsiders who sprang from the privileged inside: in the twilights of apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union, in the tempest of Amazonian America, and in the turmoil of literary precincts. It is a rich and rewarding adventure in the reading.

Barbara Ehrenreich

For anyone wishing to revisit the late twentieth century, Adam Hochschild is the ideal traveling companion. Wherever he takes you--to a combat zone in El Salvador, an anti-apartheid rally in South Africa, the claustrophobic apartments of Moscow--you will find the place lit up with gentle humor and a luminous moral intelligence. In a time of much glibness and sensationalism, Hochschild is the rare journalist who qualifies as a gentleman, a scholar, and a mensch.

Orville Schell

Whether you are a general reader looking to be transported to other times and places or a student trying to unlock the mysteries of how good non-fiction is written, Finding the Trapdoor offers something rare. Hochschild is one of those unusual serious writers who can write about whatever interests him with intelligence, honesty and style. -- (Orville Schell, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley)

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