The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Against Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Our guest today Julia Flynn Siler is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist. Her new book, The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Against Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in May of 2019. The New York Times Book Review named it an “Editors’ Choice.” She is also the author of Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure and the The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty. She will be at the Miami Book Fair coming up November 17-24. As a veteran correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek magazine, Ms. Siler spent more than two decades in the Europe and the United States, reporting from a dozen countries. She has covered fields as varied as biotechnology, cult wines, puppy breeding, and a princess’s quest to restore a Hawaiian palace’s lost treasures. A graduate in American Studies at Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Ms. Siler began her career as a staff correspondent for BusinessWeek, working in the magazine’s Los Angeles and Chicago bureaus. She wrote stories on everything from White Castle “sliders” to the roiling futures markets for the New York Times. By taking classes at night during that time, she earned an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. In 1993, she was awarded a fellowship to teach business journalism in Prague, where she organized a speaker series at the Center for Independent Journalism, a not-for-profit organization supported in part by the New York Times Foundation. Ms. Siler then served as a London-based staff correspondent for BusinessWeek, where she was a member of BusinessWeek reporting teams that won a National Magazine Award, a Deadline Club award, as well as other honors. As a longtime London-based foreign correspondent, she wrote about family business dynasties, millionaire dons at Oxford and Cambridge, and Virgin founder Richard Branson, among other subjects. Toward the end of her years in London, she joined the Wall Street Journal as its European management correspondent, traveling throughout the region to report stories. During that time, she did post-graduate work in finance at the London Business School. After returning to the U.S., one of the first articles she wrote for the Wall Street Journal was about the turmoil within the Mondavi family’s wine empire. It ran as a front-page story in June of 2004. That story led to her book The House of Mondavi, published by Penguin’s Gotham Books in 2007. A New York Times bestseller, it was honored as a finalist both for a James Beard Award and a Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished reporting and is now in its twelfth printing. Over the years, Ms. Siler wrote many feature stories for the Wall Street Journal out of its San Francisco bureau, and helped produce WSJ.com videos to accompany some of these stories. Her critically acclaimed second book, Lost Kingdom, was also a New York Times bestseller. Ms. Siler was a 2013 recipient of the Ella Dickey Literacy Award, named in honor of a beloved librarian, and was honored at a ceremony in Missouri in April 2013. In August of 2016, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Ms. Flynn Siler a “Public Scholar” grant for 2016-2017 to support her forthcoming book, “The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown.” In June of 2017, the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism announced that Ms. Siler had been awarded a Mayborn Fellowship in Biography to support her new book. She was also named a Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Greater Good, where she spent the fall of 2017 completing her manuscript. Ms. Siler is a longtime member of the San Francisco-based writing group North 24thWriters, whose members have published fourteen nonfiction books as well as hundreds of articles and essays in major magazines, newspapers and literary journals. She is also a member of the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto. She has taught journalism at the University of London’s Birkbeck college and leads nonfiction workshops at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley as a staff member. She has appeared as a commentator on the BBC, CBS, CNBC, National Public Radio, and elsewhere. She has worked as an on-call producer for KQED’s Forum. Her stories and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Drink in America. She served two terms on the alumni board of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and currently serves on the boards of San Francisco-based Litquake Foundation, which produces an annual literary festival and year-round events, and on the board of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She is also in her second term as a member of the Council of the Friends of the Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley. She has served for several years as a nonfiction juror for the Commonwealth Club’s California Book Awards. She was born in Palo Alto, California in 1960 and she and her family live in Northern California, where they are frequent visitors to their local public libraries.

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