Jedediah Purdy

Jedediah S. Purdy is a senior correspondent of The American Prospect and a second-year student at Yale Law School. Purdy started with the Prospect as a writing fellow, writing about culture, technology, politics, and the environment. His 1998 articles include "Age of Irony" on a generation that refuses to take itself seriously, and "Dolly and Madison" on the ethics of cloning.

His first book, For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today, was published by Knopf in September 1999. His current research addresses agriculture, environmental sustainability, and the place of work in American culture. He has also been working on conceptions of human excellence in democratic politics. In 1999 he was a faculty member at the Century Institute Summer Program on America's liberal and progressive political traditions.

Purdy was born and raised on a hillside farm in central West Virginia. Until age 14, he taught himself by reading, exploring the local woods and meadows, and working alongside his parents and younger sister. After a checkered high school career that eventually took him to Phillips Exeter Academy, he returned to West Virginia, where he worked as a carpenter and spent a year in environmental politics.

In 1997 he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in social studies. In 1996 he was selected as a Truman Scholar and as West Virginia's nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship.

Recent Articles

Planet Bush, Planet Gore

I n 1997 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) undertook a routine reassessment of its national air pollution standards. After reviewing new public-health studies, EPA Director Carol Browner proposed strengthening limits on two major pollutants--ozone, the source of smog; and particulates, tiny particles that lodge in the lungs and cause respiratory illness. Her proposal promised to anger car companies, the trucking industry, and oilmen. President Clinton let the proposal sit for weeks while the heads of the Commerce, Energy, and Transportation departments expressed skepticism and downright hostility. Then Vice President Gore weighed in. Gore put all his clout behind Browner and broke the impasse. The president approved the new standards, setting off a political and legal battle that will culminate before the Supreme Court next year. In mid-August of this campaign year, George W. Bush barnstormed the Northwest, taking the Clinton administration to task on environmental issues. He...