Dan Akst is a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Slate and other leading publications. His latest book is We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess (Penguin Press). He recently became a member of the editorial board at Newsday, where he also writes a weekly column.
His first book, Wonder Boy, was the nonfiction account of a wondrous financial fraud he uncovered while working at the Los Angeles Times; it was chosen one of the 10 best books of 1990 by Business Week. His novel St. Burl’s Obituary (1996), about a fat man who becomes unrecognizably thin (and takes up the chance to re-inhabit his former life), was short-listed for the PEN/Faulkner prize for best work of fiction by an American. His novel The Webster Chronicle, which updated the lives of Cotton and Increase Mather in the context of a very modern witch hunt, was praised in the Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post and elsewhere.
Akst is a contributing editor at the Wilson Quarterly, where he has written about the historical impact of plummeting food prices, the reasons looks should matter, our changing attitudes about thrift, and the problem of self-control. He has been a Koret Fellow at the University of California (Berkeley) Graduate School of Journalism, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC, and a public policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and lives in New York’s bucolic Hudson Valley, where temptation is easily avoided.