Andersen at the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards
August 22, 1954|
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
|Residence||Brooklyn, New York, U.S.|
Westside High School|
|Occupation||Novelist, radio host, essayist|
Andersen was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated from Westside High School. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he edited the Harvard Lampoon. In 1986 with E. Graydon Carter he co-founded Spy magazine, which they sold in 1991; it continued publishing until 1998. While writing for Spy, Andersen (with Carter) coined the notable insult "short-fingered vulgarian" for future United States President Donald Trump. He has been a writer and columnist for New York ("The Imperial City"), The New Yorker ("The Culture Industry"), and Time ("Spectator"). He was also the architecture and design critic for Time for nine years.
In 1996, Bill Reilly fired Andersen after two and a half years from his position as editor-in-chief at New York, citing the publication's financial results. Andersen attributed the firing to his refusal to kill a story about a rivalry between investment bankers Felix Rohatyn and Steven Rattner that had upset Henry Kravis, the principal of the publishing firm's ownership group.
In 1999 he co-founded an online media news web site and biweekly magazine called Inside, which he and his co-founders sold to Primedia; Primedia closed the site in October 2001. From 2001 to 2004 he served as a senior creative consultant to Barry Diller's Universal Television, and from 2003 to 2005 as editorial director of Colors magazine. More recently, he co-founded the email cultural curation service Very Short List, was a guest op-ed columnist for The New York Times and editor-at-large for Random House.
He co-created Studio 360, a weekly program covering the arts and culture, which he has hosted since its launch in 2000. It is broadcast on 240 U.S. stations, and distributed as a podcast as well.
Andersen is the author of three novels, including Turn of the Century (Random House, 1999), which was a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book of the year, and the New York Times bestseller Heyday (Random House, 2007), which won the Langum Prize for the best American historical fiction of 2007. Random House published his third novel, True Believers, in the summer of 2012, and it was named one of the best novels of that year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post. His short fiction has been published in anthologies such as Stories: All-New Tales (HarperCollins, 2010).
Andersen has also published a book of humorous essays, The Real Thing (Doubleday, 1980; Holt, 1982; Bison Press, 2008), about "quintessentialism", and co-authored two humor books, Tools of Power (Viking, 1980), a parody of self-help books on becoming successful, and Loose Lips (Simon & Schuster, 1995), an anthology of edited transcripts of real-life conversations involving celebrated people. Along with Carter and George Kalogerakis he assembled a history and greatest-hits anthology of Spy called Spy: The Funny Years, published in 2006 by Miramax Books.
He also wrote Reset (Random House, 2009), an essay about the causes and aftermath of the Great Recession, and he has contributed to many other books, such as Spark: How Creativity Works (HarperCollins, 2011), and Fields of Vision: The Photographs of John Vachon (Library of Congress, 2010).
In 2017 he published two books, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, which explains American society's peculiar susceptibility to falsehoods and illusions (Random House, ISBN 978-1-4000-6721-3), and, with Alec Baldwin, You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year As President (Penguin, ISBN 978-0-5255-2199-0), a parody Trump memoir. Excerpts from Fantasyland appeared as a cover story inThe Atlantic , and in Slate. Both books were New York Times bestsellers, and Fantasyland, which the Times Book Review called "a great revisionist history of America," reached #3 on the nonfiction list.