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Jon Wiener

Contributing Editor

Jon Wiener is host and producer of “Start Making Sense,” The Nation’s weekly podcast. He teaches US history at UC Irvine, and his most recent book is How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America. He sued the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act for its files on John Lennon. With the help of the ACLU of Southern California, Wiener v. FBI went all the way to the Supreme Court before the FBI settled in 1997. That story is told in Wiener’s book, Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files; some of the pages of the Lennon FBI file are posted here. The story is also told in the documentary, “The U.S. Versus John Lennon,” released in 2006.  His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times. It has been translated into Japanese, German, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Italian.

Wiener also hosts a weekly afternoon drive-time interview show on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles His guests have included Gail Collins, Jane Mayer, Joan Didion, Gore Vidal, Barbara Ehrenreich, Frank Rich, Seymour Hersh, Amos Oz, Mike Davis, Elmore Leonard, John Dean, Julian Bond, Al Franken, and Terry Gross.

Jon Wiener was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and attended Central High School there. He has a B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. from Harvard, where he began working as a writer in the late sixties for the underground paper The Old Mole. He lives in Los Angeles.

  • Society May 14, 2010

    Layoffs Hit LA’s Anti-Gang Homeboy Industries

    The legendary L.A. institution faces a heartbreaking financial crisis.

    Jon Wiener

  • Education Reform May 12, 2010

    Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies—Update

    "Advocating ethnic solidarity" is now illegal in Arizona public schools.

    Jon Wiener

  • History April 21, 2010

    Lies about Ike: Stephen Ambrose, Another Historian in Trouble

    Stephen Ambrose said he spent hundreds of hours interviewing Ike. The Eisenhower library says he didn't.

    Jon Wiener

  • Publishing Industry April 20, 2010

    Historian in Trouble: Orlando Figes and his Sock Puppet

    A historian admits he denounced rivals anonymously on the internet.

    Jon Wiener

  • March 31, 2010


    Letters published in the April 19, 2010 issue of The Nation.

    Our Readers and Jon Wiener

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  • Government March 4, 2010

    New Left Review at 50

    The journal's sustained critique of neoliberalism remains indispensable.

    Jon Wiener

  • Corporations February 25, 2010

    Big Tobacco and the Historians

    A tale of seduction and intimidation.

    Jon Wiener

  • January 12, 2010

    Nixon and the 1969 Vietnam Moratorium

    In 1969, as the anti-war movement was reaching a peak, Richard Nixon's White House staff debated what they could do to "show the little bastards" what kind of man they were up against. They were concerned about what would be the biggest antiwar demonstration in US history on Nov. 15, 1969, when half a million people came to Washington D.C. to demand that an end to the war in Vietnam.

    Now, newly released documents from the Nixon Library provide fascinating details about the debate within the White House staff two months earlier about how the president should respond. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, at the time an influential member of Nixon's inner circle, suggested that the president could "take away the day" from the protesters if he would "close down" the White House "in sympathy."

    "That will show the little bastards," Moynihan said. He knew the kind of talk that impressed Nixon.

    Jon Wiener

  • January 11, 2010

    How the Healthcare Bill Will Hurt L.A.

    Los Angeles County has more uninsured people than anyplace else in the country – three million, many of them immigrants, and many of those undocumented. If the Senate version of health bill passes, with its ban on federal coverage of non-citizens, a million people in California will be denied health insurance--the great majority of them in L.A.

    That would be a disaster for Los Angeles.

    The Senate bill, like the House version, would create insurance exchanges and give federal subsidies to low-income people to buy their own coverage. The Senate bill, however, would prohibit those who are not U.S. citizens from participating in the exchanges. The House bill is slightly better -- it allows legal immigrants who aren't citizens to buy insurance through the exchange, although it denies them federal subsidies.

    Jon Wiener