Neil Shea



Encounters with the Great War

September 18, 2014

This winter, while I was holed up against blizzards on Cape Cod, Bruce Falconer and I started talking about World War One. The centennial was approaching, and we’re nerds on the subject, so it became the kind of awesome, meandering conversation that seems somehow rarer, even though it spread across every latest connection—text, facebook, email, voicemail, snail mail. The result appears now in the autumn issue of The American Scholar, an essay in which we explore how the war speaks across a century, beyond death. Thanks to Bruce, Editor Bob Wilson, and the Imperial War Museum for the spark and the space to explore. I wasn’t sure at first how to begin this one, so I let Claude Monet’s cathedrals—his quantum visions from Rouen—lead me in.

Instagram Storytelling Workshop

September 05, 2014

Heading to Instagram headquarters outside San Francisco tomorrow to present a workshop on writing short stories. Thrilled to be collaborating with Peter Gwin, my editor and pal at National Geographic, and Pam Chen, Instagram’s editorial director. Peter and I will spend two days talking with the Instagram team about how words and photographs work together, and how stories are made. Can’t wait to get out there.

Back to Kenya

April 16, 2014

I’ll be returning to Kenya soon with Randy Olson to continue fieldwork on our Lake Turkana story for National Geographic. I’ve set up an Instagram page to share photos of our journey; some shots from August’s trip are already there. Visit me there: More soon!

Writing Lessons

February 06, 2014

A few months ago my friend and editor Bruce Falconer asked me to contribute to a series in The American Scholar where poets, novelists, journalists and others pull up an experience, a memory, or a thread of advice that helped them find their way through words. My piece is up and it’s about how I learned to let stories unfold. It’ll sound familiar; many of you are out there, doing this, every day. There are some great pieces in this series from writers I admire—Paul Salopek, Charles Bowden, David Guterson, who offer fresh insights or remind us of things we may have forgotten.

The After-war

December 10, 2013

This autumn, the editors at The American Scholar asked me to review David Finkel’s new book, “Thank You for Your Service.” The piece, my first book review, appears in the latest issue of the Scholar. Finkel tells a hard, important story, offering a deep view into a war that hasn’t ended and the lives of those who continue to fight it.

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