Miriam Pawel is an author, journalist, and independent historian. Her recent work has sought to explain her adopted home state of California, drawing on history to inform the present and illuminate the future. Her most recent book, The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation (Bloomsbury, 2018) traces the history of California through four generations of the family of Governors Pat and Jerry Brown. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.
During her fellowship, Pawel is researching, contextualizing, and writing about income inequality in California. Through historically rooted exploration of promising enterprises in multiple domains, she will examine how the world’s fifth-largest economy grapples with building a new, multiracial middle class. The state that has long influenced the country in myriad ways will prove central to any significant progress toward greater equity in the nation.
The Browns of California was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the California Book Award Gold Medal. Pawel’s prior book, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography (Bloomsbury, 2014), won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and the California Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Before focusing on the second cut of history, Pawel spent 25 years as an award-winning journalist, directing coverage that won Pulitzer Prizes at both Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Alicia Patterson Foundation.