Nina in Koraro, Ethiopia. All photos © N. Munk
Nina Munk, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 2001, is a journalist and author whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Fortune. Among other literary prizes, she has been awarded three Business Journalist of the Year Awards (including “most outstanding winner of all categories”) and three Front Page Awards. Her article about mismanagement at Harvard University was shortlisted for a Gerald Loeb Award and is included in The Great Hangover: 21 Tales of the New Recession from the Pages of Vanity Fair
Nina’s newest book is The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, the profound and moving story of what happens when the abstract theories of a brilliant, driven man meet the messy reality of human life. Deeply reported over a period of more than six years, The Idealist is the result of repeated journeys to sub-Saharan Africa where Nina not only sat in on Sachs's official meetings with heads-of-state, but also immersed herself in the lives of people in two isolated villages, Ruhiira, in southwest Uganda, and Dertu, on the arid border of Kenya and Somalia. Accepting the hospitality of camel herders and small-hold farmers, and witnessing their struggle to survive, Nina reveals clearly and empathetically the hurdles that lie on the path to ending global poverty.
The Idealist, nominated for the Lionel Gelber Prize and a finalist for the Governor General's Award and the National Business Book Award, has been widely praised. Reviewers have described it as "masterful," "incisive," "fascinating," "sharply rendered," and "riveting.” It has been named a Book of the Year by The Spectator, Forbes, and Bloomberg, among others. The book's full reviews are available here. Excerpts are available here, and you can watch the book's trailer video here.
Nina’s book Fools Rush In: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner has been described by critics as a “tour de force” and “an addictive read.” The New York Times Book Review lauded Fools Rush In for its “exemplary reporting” and its “lively, lucid writing.”
The Art of Clairtone: The Making of a Design Icon, 1958–1971, which Nina co-wrote with curator Rachel Gotlieb, records the sensational rise and collapse of the celebrated stereo manufacturer Clairtone Sound Corp. The book led to an important exhibition of Clairtone stereos and artifacts at the Design Exchange museum in Toronto.
Born in Canada and raised in Switzerland, Nina Munk lives in New York with her husband, Peter Soriano, and her two children. She has a Bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Smith College, where she currently serves on the board of the Alumnae Association, and a Master’s degree in French language and literature from Middlebury College. She earned a second Master’s, with honors, from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, where she was awarded the Philip Greer Scholarship Award for Financial Writing and the New York Financial Writers’ Association C. Norman Stabler Scholarship. Before joining Vanity Fair in 2001, Nina was a senior writer at Fortune and a senior editor at Forbes.
As a sideline to her career as a journalist, Nina founded the website Urbanhound.com in 2000. The site was named “Best of the Web” by Forbes and “Best in Show” by Entertainment Weekly. The New York Times referred to it as a “pedigreed and permanent fixture within the city’s zealous dog culture.” In 2009, Urbanhound was sold to FetchDog, an e-commerce and catalog company based in Maine.
PRAISE FOR THE IDEALIST
"A deep and important book."
"Not only an important book, but a truly enjoyable read."
The Weekly Standard
"An absolute must-read for anyone interested in doing good."
The Christian Science Monitor
"Brilliant, gripping, disturbing."
"A masterful tale of good intentions gone wrong."
"A fine contrarian polemic full to brimming with excellent reporting."
The Globe & Mail
"Heart-rending…. The catalogue of bright ideas that go awry would be funny if it weren’t so tragic."
"A testament to the enduring value of old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting—it should be read not just in policy circles but also at J-schools.”
"A devastating portrait of hubris and its consequences.”
Howard W. French
"A stark reminder that the war against poverty is not yet won. A must-read [that] shows how a powerful vacuum of serious policy action and thinking is still leaving hundreds of million of people vulnerable.”
"A sharply rendered and deeply disillusioned account of [Jeffrey Sachs's] personal quest to end poverty.”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
"A fascinating and essential exploration of what goes wrong when unchecked audacity and clinical precision encounter the frailties, ambiguities, and unpredictabilities of human beings, societies and histories.”
THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
"A measured, immersive study of a remarkable but all-too-human man who let his vision get the best of him”
“Incisive, moving and elegantly written.”
Hernando de Soto
“A fascinating book about a fascinating man.”
“A riveting narrative…. This powerful book will shake up the foreign aid development community.”
“A clearheaded depiction of the challenges the world’s poorest face as they struggle to improve their lives.”
“Nina Munk’s book is an excellent—and moving—tribute to the vision and commitment of Jeffery Sachs.”
“A powerful exposé of hubris run amok.”
PRAISE FOR FOOLS RUSH IN
“Of all the journalists who wrote obits for the dot-com mania, few did it with the precision and quiet glee of Nina Munk.”
DAVID CARR, NEW YORK TIMES
“A fascinating close-up of an imperial chief executive.
“Exemplary reporting with lively, lucid writing.”
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“A quick, absorbing read.”
JIM CRAMER, THESTREET.COM
“A tour de force.”
“An addictive read.”
REPORT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
“Perceptive and well written.”
LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW
“Absorbing and nuanced.”
THE GLOBE & MAIL
“Comprehensive, compelling, and truly entertaining.”
BRUCE GREENWALD, COLUMBIA MAGAZINE