The Short Story
I’m a freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado, and the author, most recently, of A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial. My previous book, The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, made several best-of-the-year lists in 2006. I’ve published articles on fasting for Harper’s, on aphrodisiac hunting for Outside, and on climate devastation for Salon, and I’ve reviewed books for the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. I’m now at work on a book about the history and science of fasting (and my own experiences of it) for Abrams Press, tentatively titled The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting. It’s due out in the spring or summer of 2022.
The Longer Story
I was born in Arkansas, raised in Texas, and educated (more or less) at Yale. After college, I spent several years in Seattle and Montana, where I divided my time between writing about politics and doing politics. I twice ran for local office in Helena, Montana, and twice lost. (The first time was close; the second, not so.) Since then, I’ve stuck to writing, which has suited me and voters just fine.
I wrote The Unquiet Grave because I was disturbed by the grim neglect that prevails in much of Indian Country. After reading Peter Matthiessen’s monumental In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983), I wondered what had been uncovered about the struggle between the FBI and the American Indian Movement in the years since. The short answer: not much. I intended The Unquiet Grave to fill part of the void.
I began work on A Kidnapping in Milan in 2007 because the barbarisms of America’s “War on Terror” appalled me, as did the many reporters who abetted them. I was particularly taken aback by the Bush and Obama claims that torture-by-proxy makes us stronger. A Kidnapping in Milan is about the CIA’s abduction of a radical imam, his torture by our Egyptian surrogates, and the struggle of a courageous Italian magistrate to bring the kidnappers to trial. I hope my account gives a clear-eyed look into the horror that is America’s policy of extraordinary rendition.
I’m married to Jennifer Hendricks, a professor of law at the University of Colorado. I took her name when we married, and she paid the bills. Still does. It’s an awfully good deal for a freelance writer. (I was born Stephen Bicknell and published under that name prenuptially.) Jennifer represented me in successful Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the FBI and other agencies to win the documents that underpinned The Unquiet Grave. We live with our son Elliott and dog Coconut in what was once the poet Allen Ginsberg's house in Boulder.