Garrett M. Graff '03

Garrett M. Graff '03

Garrett M.  Graff '03

Position: Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Magazine; Author

Field: Journalism & Media

Thesis Title: “The Anxious Imperialist: The Fear of European Intervention during America’s Imperial Infancy, 1848-1871”

Graduated: 2003

I’ve found my history training useful at every turn of my career. Perhaps more than anything I’ve benefited from the extensive writing and research skills that the history concentration stresses. My career path first took me into politics after graduation, where I was deputy national press secretary for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and later helped found an internet strategy consulting firm in DC, before venturing back into my intended career as a journalist. I'm now in my fourth year as Washingtonian magazine's editor-in-chief and both write and edit on a near daily basis. The research and critical thinking skills I learned in Harvard history classes and seminars has been invaluable, particularly in writing the books and long-form magazine articles that have become the bulk of my career.

I'm now embarking on my third book, a history of the presidency during the Cold War, due out in 2015 from Simon & Schuster. My first, "The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House," examined how technology was changing politics and the presidential campaign in 2008; the second, "The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War," published in 2011, traced the history of the FBI since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972 and the rise of its counterterrorism efforts. All three efforts have drawn upon the original primary source research skills I first developed wading through archives and libraries at Harvard for one class assignment or another, piecing together research bit by bit in files, journals, and the vast stacks. Moreover, throughout my career, I appreciated the extensive writing and revising done in the history tutorial program and the broad knowledge base that I accumulated as an American History concentrator. I knew, for instance, in starting out to write my first book that I could tackle such a huge writing project—because I already had for my senior thesis, still one of the most invaluable projects I've ever done.

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