Tracy Kidder
Bestselling Author  Journalist  Essayist

"A lot of the job of a person trying to write stories that are true is to make what’s true believable. It isn’t enough to say, well, it actually happened. You have to make it believable on the page; you have to bring people to life and scenes to life."

—Tracy Kidder

Over his long career, Kidder’s writing has been prolific and outstanding. The Soul of a New Machine —a book celebrated for its insight into the world of high-tech corporate America—earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 1982.  Other bestselling works include House (1985), Among Schoolchildren (1989), Old Friends (1993) and Home Town (1999).
His enormously influential book Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003) captures two global health crises—tuberculosis and AIDS through the eyes of a single-minded physician bent on improving the health of some of the poorest people on the planet.

The story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a major force in revolutionizing international health, is a gripping and inspiring account of one man’s efforts to establish clinics and hospitals—his compassion for the poor, his inner circle of true believers and, ultimately, his success in helping stem the tide of new HIV and TB infections in Haiti. Farmer is the founder of Zanmi Lasante (Creole for Partners in Health), a non-governmental organization that is the only health-care provider in the Plateau Central in Haiti.

Mountains Beyond Mountains “remind[s] us that we’re implicated in all the problems [Farmer] is working to solve…His complicated humanity only makes him more like the rest of us in our shortcomings—and leaves us asking why we all aren’t a little more like him in our virtues” (Newsweek).

In his subsequent book, Strength in What Remains, Kidder delivers the humbling story of Deo, a young man whose will to survive and love of knowledge take him from the horrors of genocide in Burundi to Columbia University and then on to medical school—a brilliant testament to the power of second chances and an inspiring account of one immigrant's remarkable American journey. Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health also play a pivotal role in Deo’s story, as they inspire him to establish his own clinic in Burundi. Strength in What Remains was a finalist for both 2009 The National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Award.

Kidder's latest book Good Prose is a guide to the craft of nonfiction writing, written with his long-time editor Richard Todd.  

Born in New York City in 1945, Kidder spent his childhood in Oyster Bay, Long Island, where his father was a lawyer and his mother a teacher. He attended Harvard, where he earned a BA in 1967. From June 1968 until June 1969, he served as a lieutenant in Vietnam, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star, an experience chronicled in his memoir My Detachment.

Following the war, Kidder obtained his MA from the University of Iowa, where he attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It was there that Kidder met
Atlantic Monthly contributing editor Dan Wakefield, who helped him get his first assignment for the magazine as a freelance writer.

Over the years, Kidder’s articles have covered a broad array of topics, ranging from railroads to energy, architecture, and the environment. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The New York Times Book Review and The New York Times OpEd page.

Kidder lives with his wife in western Massachusetts and Maine.

Selected Writings

  • Good Prose (Random House, 2013)
  • Strength in What Remains (Random House, 2009)
  • My Detachment (Random House, 2005)
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains (Random House, 2003)
  • Home Town (Random House, 1999)
  • Old Friends (Houghton Mifflin, 1993)
  • Among Schoolchildren (Houghton Mifflin, 1989)
  • House (Houghton Mifflin, 1985)
  • The Soul of a New Machine (Little, Brown, 1981)
2009  Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award, Strength in What Remains
2009  Christopher Award, Strength in What Remains
2009  Books for a Better Life Award, Strength in What Remains
2009  Finalist, LA Times Book Prize, Strength in What Remains
2009  Finalist, The Indies Choice Book Award, Strength in What Remains
1989  Robert F. Kennedy Award, Among School Children
1982  National Book Award, Soul of a New Machine
1982  Pulitzer Prize, Soul of a New Machine

"The SciFri Book Club Talks ‘The Soul of a New Machine’": Tracy Kidder on NPR's Science Friday

CNN's "Inside Africa" talks with Tracy Kidder and Deogratias Niyizonkiza, the protagonist in Kidder's book The Strength of What Remains:

Book Trailer for Kidder's award-winning book, Strength in What Remains:

"Can A Writer Be a Social Activist?" Christian Science Monitor, 31 May 2011 - Q & A Interview with Tracy Kidder

National Public Radio: Tracy Kidder Interview on All Things Considered

"A Death in Burundi", New York Times, 22 July 2009

"Leaving Burundi: A Young Genocide Survivor's Tale of Escape, Healing--And Hope", Oprah Magazine, Sept 2009 - Book review of Strength in What Remains

To learn more about Tracy Kidder and his work, please visit


[A] astonishing book that will leave you questioning your own life and political views…Kidder opens a window into Farmer’s soul, letting the reader peek in and see what truly makes the good doctor tick.

Nicholas Thomas, USA Today

Touching, funny and inspiring.
The New York Times

Mountains Beyond Mountains unfolds with the force of gathering revelation. Like all of Tracy Kidder’s books, it is as hard to put down as any good and true story.
Annie Dillard


In this excellent work, Pulitzer Prize-winner Kidder immerses himself in and beautifully explores the rich drama that exists in the life of Dr. Paul Farmer.... Throughout, Kidder captures the almost saintly effect Farmer has on those whom he treats.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Brilliant, concise, and

[A] Skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Pulitzer Prize winner Kidder (The Soul of a New Machine) turns his great gift for narrative nonfiction to his own life and tells of his year in Vietnam as a young army officer. Far from a blood-and-guts memoir, Kidder's story is one of painful self-revelation and amusing coming of age.

Library Journal

My Detachment by Tracy Kidder