American essayists

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  1. Serj Tankian

    Serj Tankian


    Serj Tankian (Western Armenian: Սերժ Թանկեան, born August 21, 1967) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, poet, and political activist. He is best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist and occasional live rhythm guitarist of the rock band System of a Down, formed in 1994 by four Armenian-American friends.

  2. Helen Keller

    Helen Keller


    Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. The story of how Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker. Her birthplace in West Tuscumbia, Alabama is now a museum and sponsors an annual "Helen Keller Day". Her birthday on June 27 is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and was authorized at the federal level by presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, the 100th anniversary of her birth.

  3. Ernest Hemingway

    Ernest Hemingway


    Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.

  4. Sylvia Plath

    Sylvia Plath


    Sylvia Plath (/plæθ/; October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge, before receiving acclaim as a poet and writer. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956; they lived together in the United States and then England, and had two children, Frieda and Nicholas. Plath was clinically depressed for most of her adult life. She committed suicide in 1963.

  5. Ayn Rand

    Ayn Rand


    Ayn Rand (/ˈn ˈrænd/; born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, Russian: Али́са Зино́вьевна Розенба́ум; February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-born American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful in America, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead.

  6. Hunter S. Thompson

    Hunter S. Thompson


    Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author, and the founder of the gonzo journalism movement. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, to a middle-class family, Thompson had a turbulent youth after the death of his father left the family in poverty. He was unable to formally finish high school as he was incarcerated for 60 days after abetting a robbery. He subsequently joined the United States Air Force before moving into journalism. He traveled frequently, including stints in California, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, before settling in Aspen, Colorado, in the early 1960s.

  7. Panio Gianopoulos

    Panio Gianopoulos


    Panio Gianopoulos (born July 7, 1975) is a writer and editor.

  8. Anthony Bourdain

    Anthony Bourdain


    Anthony Michael Bourdain (born June 25, 1956) is an American chef, author, and television personality. He is a 1978 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a veteran of numerous professional kitchens, including many years as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles. Though Bourdain is no longer formally employed as a chef, he maintains a relationship with Les Halles in New York. He is widely known for his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and in 2005 he began hosting the Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure programs Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. In 2013, he joined CNN to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

  9. James Baldwin

    James Baldwin


    James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America, and their inevitable if unnameable tensions. Some Baldwin essays are book-length, for instance The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976).

  10. Isaac Asimov

    Isaac Asimov


    Isaac Asimov (/ˈzɨk ˈæzɨmɒv/; born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov; circa January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was prolific and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

  11. Theodore Roosevelt

    Theodore Roosevelt


    Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (ˈrzəvɛlt ROH-zə-velt; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to by his initials TR, was an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, naturalist, and historian who served as the 26th President of the United States. A leader of the Republican Party, he was the spokesman for the Progressive Era. A sickly child whose asthma was debilitating and nearly fatal, Roosevelt regained his vigor, and embraced a strenuous life. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a "cowboy" persona defined by its exultant masculinity. Home-schooled, he became a lifelong naturalist at an early age. Roosevelt attended Harvard College, where he studied biology, boxed, and developed an interest in naval affairs. His first of many books, The Naval War of 1812 (1882), established his reputation as both a learned historian and a popular writer. He soon entered politics, winning election to the New York State Assembly in 1881. He became the leader of the reform faction of the Republican Party in the state. Following the deaths of his wife and mother on the same day in 1884, Roosevelt took a reprieve from politics to operate a cattle ranch in the Dakotas as a cowboy. When his herds died in a blizzard he returned to run unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City in 1886. He became New York City Police Commissioner in 1895, where he instituted major reforms. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under William McKinley, resigning after one year to serve with the Rough Riders, gaining national fame for courage during the war in Cuba. The returning war hero was elected Governor of New York, but confronted an entrenched party establishment that distrusted him and pushed him into becoming McKinley's running mate in 1900. He stumped the nation, helping McKinley win by a landslide on a platform of peace, prosperity and conservatism.

  12. Nora Ephron

    Nora Ephron


    Nora Ephron (EHF-rihn; May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) was an American journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director, and blogger.

  13. Gore Vidal

    Gore Vidal


    Gore Vidal (/ˌɡɔr vɨˈdɑːl/; b. Eugene Louis Vidal; 3 October 1925 – 31 July 2012) was an American writer (novels, essays, screenplays, stage plays) and a public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing. As Eugene Louis Vidal, he was born to a political family; his maternal grandfather, Thomas Pryor Gore, served as United States Senator from Oklahoma (1907–21 and 1931–37). As Gore Vidal, he was a Democratic Party politician who twice sought elected office; first to the United States House of Representatives (New York State, 1960), then to the U.S. Senate (California, 1982).

  14. Paul Reiser

    Paul Reiser


    Paul Reiser (born March 30, 1957) is an American comedian, actor, television personality and writer, author and musician. He is most widely known for his role in the 1990s TV sitcom Mad About You. He is ranked 77th on Comedy Central's 2004 list of the "100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time". The name of Reiser's production company, Nuance Productions, is inspired by one of his lines in the film Diner (1982), in which his character explains his discomfort with the word "nuance".

  15. Henry Miller

    Henry Miller


    Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980) was an American writer. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms, developing a new sort of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, explicit language, sex, surrealist free association and mysticism. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer (1934), Black Spring (1936), Tropic of Capricorn (1939) and The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy (1949–59), all of which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris, and all of which were banned in the United States until 1961. He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.

  16. Abbie Hoffman

    Abbie Hoffman


    Abbot Howard "Abbie" Hoffman (November 30, 1936 – April 12, 1989) was an American political and social activist and anarchist who co-founded the Youth International Party ("Yippies").

  17. Norman Mailer

    Norman Mailer


    Norman Kingsley Mailer (January 31, 1923 – November 10, 2007) was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor and political activist. His novel The Naked and the Dead was published in 1948. His best-known work was widely considered to be The Executioner's Song, which was published in 1979, and for which he won one of his two Pulitzer Prizes. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, his book Armies of the Night was awarded the National Book Award.

  18. Thomas Mann

    Thomas Mann


    Paul Thomas Mann (6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

  19. Christopher Hitchens

    Christopher Hitchens


    Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British author, religious and literary critic, and journalist. Hitchens later spent much of his career in the United States and became an American citizen.

  20. Amy Tan

    Amy Tan


    Amy Tan (born February 19, 1952) is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese-American experience. Her best-known work is The Joy Luck Club, which has been translated into 35 languages. In 1993, the book was adapted into a commercially successful film.

  21. James Ellroy

    James Ellroy


    Lee Earle "James" Ellroy (born March 4, 1948) is an American crime fiction writer and essayist. Ellroy has become known for a telegrammatic prose style in his most recent work, wherein he frequently omits connecting words and uses only short, staccato sentences, and in particular for the novels The Black Dahlia (1987), The Big Nowhere (1988), L.A. Confidential (1990), White Jazz (1992), American Tabloid (1995), The Cold Six Thousand (2001), and Blood's a Rover (2009).

  22. Heather Juergensen

    Heather Juergensen


    Heather Julia Juergensen (born January 2, 1970) is an American actress and writer.

  23. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

    Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (/ˈvɒnɨɡət/; November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American author. In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).

  24. Fareed Zakaria

    Fareed Zakaria


    Fareed Rafiq Zakaria (/fəˈrd zəˈkɑriə/; born January 20, 1964) is an Indian-born American journalist and author. He is the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS and writes a weekly column for The Washington Post. He has been a columnist for Newsweek, editor of Newsweek International, and an editor-at-large of Time. He is the author of five books, three of them international bestsellers, and the co-editor of one.

  25. Clint Catalyst

    Clint Catalyst


    Clint Catalyst (born April 8, 1971) is the nom de plume of Clinton Green, an American author, actor, spoken word performer, and stylist.

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