Author of Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld
“Strangely fascinating and endearing...In short, it’s terrific.”—Bill Bryson
“This is perceptive writing that illuminates the human condition.”—Publishers Weekly
Jake Halpern has a gift for finding and telling America’s untold stories. “[His] voice is a welcome one; he is a fresh, spirited chronicler of a rare breed of people,” says the San Francisco Chronicle. Whether he’s exploring the unregulated shadowland of consumer debt collection (in Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld); the seedy underbelly of our national obsession with celebrity (in Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction); or the country’s most hellish places (in Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales); he captures and unravels the extraordinary narratives that make up this country. His first book, Braving Home, was selected for the Book of the Month Club by Bill Bryson and was one of Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year. His next book, Fame Junkies, was the basis for an original series on NPR’s All Things Considered and was excerpted in both the New Yorker and in Entertainment Weekly. His children’s book series, The Dormia Trilogy, was hailed by the American Library Association’s Booklist as a worthy heir to the Harry Potter series.
Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld
In this riveting talk, Jake Halpern introduces us to a former banking executive and a former armed robber who become partners and go in quest of “paper”—the uncollected debts that are sold off by banks for pennies on the dollar. As Halpern shows, the world of consumer debt collection is a wild and unregulated shadowland, where operators may misrepresent a debtor’s situation, make illegal threats, and even lay claim to debts that are not theirs to collect in the first place. He follows his collectors as they intimidate competitors with weapons, manage high-pressure call centers, and scheme new ways to benefit from American’s debtindustrial complex. He also explores the history of collection agencies and reveals the human cost of a system that leaves hardworking Americans with little opportunity to retire their debts in a reasonable way. He leaves us with a true understanding of the societal and economic impacts of debt, and how consumers and the financial sector need to work together to earn trust, accountability, and confidence and develop a system that benefits everyone.
Thrilling Tales: An Inspiring Talk for Young Readers and Writers
In addition to writing serious adult nonfiction—for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic—Jake Halpern also writes young adult novels for teens. His book, Braving Home, was a Library Journal book of the year in the young adult category. His most recent young adult novel, Nightfall, was a New York Times bestseller and was chosen by the Book Expo of America as one of the top five “buzz books” for 2015.
Halpern has traveled the country talking to students—grades K–12—at over 200 schools. His previous work as a teacher means he actually gets kids, and loves spending time with them. In this unique talk, Halpern explores how fact can inspire incredible stories. He takes material from his own life—from sailing the Nile to boating the Amazon; from facing Icelandic blizzards to exploring Indian jungles; from trekking in the Himalayas to rappelling the cliffs of the Dead Sea—and shows how real life can be the inspiration for jaw-dropping fiction, and how reality can nurse fantasy. This is an animated one-man show that’s perfect for groups of 300 to 700 students, but can also be tailored for smaller writing workshops, modeled on the engaging classes he teaches at Yale but geared toward kids: both those who are aspiring authors and those who believe, adamantly, that they hate writing. Halpern came to writing late himself, and loves winning over even the most skeptical of students.
Toby Farms Elementary, Chester Upland School District
Jake Halpern spoke to my students today and greatly exceeded all of our expectations. My 8th grade students, admittedly a hard group to please, were actually yelling and complaining about having to go to â€˜another assemblyâ€™ before his presentation. Many were devising ways to skip it. But Jake swooped in with his animated and jovial style of story-telling to quiet their animosity. Within minutes he had them on the edge of their seats in suspense listening to his stories. Many students gave me money to order the first book in his series before he even left the building. Whenever a teenager is willing to offer his or her own precious dollars to buy a book, I know Iâ€™ve met an instant success.
Indian Hills Middle School Library, Kansas
Jake was a fantastic speaker! He had these middle school students in the palm of his hand with his story-telling and anecdotes. The students were talking about him for days! Teachers came to me for two weeks afterward telling me that it was the best assembly our school has ever had.
Bungay Elementary School, Seymour, CT
Jake mesmerized our students â€¦ He took a group of students who you normally can not get to stay quiet and turned them into the perfect audience. Wonderful presentation, and the kids are really enjoying his book, too! One boy was sent home from school with what was thought to be pink eye but the mom said it was from reading the book so much!
Irving Middle School, Virginia
Jake Halpern did four back-to-back presentations at our middle school with less than two weeks left before summer break and had everyoneâ€”staff and studentsâ€”enthralled the entire time! Afterward, the halls and classrooms buzzed with talk about the author visit and his book, Dormia!
Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld
Bad Paper is a riveting exposé, a moving story of an unlikely friendship, and a gritty narrative of how scrappy entrepreneurs profit from our debts. Jake Halpern introduces us to a former banking executive and a former armed robber who become partners and go in quest of "paper"—the uncollected debts that are sold off by banks for pennies on the dollar. As Halpern shows, the world of consumer debt collection is a wild and unregulated shadowland, where operators may misrepresent a debtor’s situation, make illegal threats, and even lay claim to debts that are not theirs to collect in the first place. It is a realm of indelible individuals who possess a swagger and vocabulary that even David Mamet could not invent. Halpern follows his collectors as they intimidate competitors with weapons, manage high-pressure call centers, and scheme new ways to benefit from American’s debt-industrial complex. He also explores the history of collection agencies and reveals the human cost of a system that leaves hardworking Americans with little opportunity to retire their debts in a reasonable way. The result is a bravura work of storytelling that is also an important consciousness-raiser.
Fame Junkies : The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction
For several years, Jake Halpern has reported on Hollywood for NPR's All Things Considered. In his new book, he explores the fascinating and often dark implications of America's obsession with fame. Why do more people watch the ultimate competition for celebrityhood, American Idol, than watch the nightly news on the three major networks combined? Why do seemingly normal, educated people care about Paris Hilton's dating life? Why do teenage girls—when given the option of "pressing a magic button" and becoming either stronger, smarter, famous, or more beautiful—overwhelmingly opt for fame?
Halpern answers these and other questions by traveling to America's fame factories and profiling a colorful and surprisingly insightful cast of characters, including diehard fans, aspiring stars, and celebrities like Rod Stewart and U2's The Edge. Interspersing these stories with new research—including original findings from his own "fame survey"—Halpern helps us understand how psychology, technology, evolution, and profit conspire to make us so enthralled with the world of red carpets and velvet ropes.
Braving Home : Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales
When Jake Halpern was just a cub reporter, he became obsessed with stories about hellish places. In his spare time, he traveled to smoldering coal towns and deadly flood plains to meet with the few diehards who refused to leave. Iron-willed, unfearing, and utterly immovable, these characters captured his imagination. They were the nation’s toughest home-keepers, and he was their aspiring chronicler. His fellow reporters joked with him and nicknamed him the Bad Homes Correspondent. But the more he learned about these people, the more he was drawn to them.
Braving Home is a journey to the most punishing towns in America, but more than this, it’s a periscope into the extraordinary lives of the people who live there. In North Carolina, Halpern finds a retired mill worker who single-handedly mans his hometown in the wake of a devastating flood. In Alaska, Halpern travels to a snowbound high-rise in the wilderness where he meets a woman hiding from her maniacal ex-husband. At the base of a volcano in Hawaii, he stays with a hermit whose house has been surrounded by lava for almost twenty years. And these are just a few of his stops. On a year-long odyssey packed with ocean storms, raging wildfires, and erupting volcanoes—he provides a glimpse into a world where almost all are afraid to venture, and a few refuse to leave.
@craigiswriting Sees like there is Hollywood interest in a feature film (fictional) on my Gold Train article, but we'll see what happens.about 1 month ago
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