Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times, speaker and bestselling author. He writes about technology, its impact on society, and how it changes the way we work, play, and relate to each other. Richtel’s research on the immune system has become the topic of his latest New York Times series on the rise of drug-resistant infections. He explores this and more in his latest book, An Elegant Defense (William Morrow) which published in March to rave reviews.
In An Elegant Defense, Richtel uses the stories of four people to tell the incredible story of the human immune system. He builds on his acclaimed stories on immunotherapy in the New York Times, combining the latest science with interviews and engaging anecdotes from the world’s leading researchers to reveal how the body fights bacteria, viruses, parasites, and tumors.
A lauded speaker, he talks in accessible, entertaining terms about how heavy technology use impacts the brain, and why our gadgets have become so seductive as to be nearly addictive. He offers practical ways for employees, parents and children to make the best use of technology without succumbing to allowing it to become counter-productive.
These subjects were covered in his heralded 2014 non-fiction thriller, A Deadly Wandering (William Morrow), which details a deadly, mysterious car crash paired with the study of the science of attention to answer the question: what is technology doing to our brains.
A New York Times bestseller, it was named as one of the 20 best books of the year by Amazon, a New York Times Editor’s Pick, a best book of the month by the Christian Science Monitor, and selected as an IndieNext pick by the nation’s independent bookstores. Amazon called it “a masterful work of narrative non-fiction,” and the New York Times Review of Books said it should be required reading in schools alongside Fast Food Nation and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Richtel’s 2010 series in the New York Times, "Our Brain On Computers" focused on how constant use of our devices impacts not only our behavior but our thought processes and even our neurology. His 2009 series about the dangers of multitasking while driving won the Pulitzer for national reporting. He is the author of three mysteries: The Cloud, Devil’s Plaything, and Hooked, a national best seller. His first children’s book, A Runaway Booger, was released in 2017.
Richtel joined The New York Times in 2000, writing on a range of topics--Internet gambling, identity theft, corporate espionage, video games, mobile communications, and the dot com boom and bust. He was a Loeb award finalist for his work on the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal and the winner of best project from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for his work on distracted driving.
Richtel lives in San Francisco with his wife and their two children. He is an avid tennis player, a recreational athlete, a prideful maker of guacamole for parties, and a periodic (and not good) songwriter. He grew up in Boulder, Colorado, the son of two avid readers, attended Boulder High School, and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in rhetoric from University of California at Berkeley and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University.
Praise for Matt Richtel:
“Engaging and provocative. He gets the audience to ask questions, reassess their assumptions, and most of all, to think... The perfect first-year read.”
--David Jenemann, acting dean, honors college, University of Vermont.
"Powerful and compelling sprinkled with just the right amount of wit.... Matt’s handling of the Q&A highlighted his gift as an intelligent communicator. I was particularly impressed by Matt’s ability to make those around him feel appreciated for what they were doing for him and his willingness to do whatever we asked of him. To summarize; very professional, engaging and genuine. A pleasure to work with."
--Dan Goodsell, Office of University Public Engagement, California State University, Chico.
“Matt connects wonderfully with audiences. It’s an important topic for today’s students discussed and told with care for the lives touched and with great insight on the science around our use of technology.”
--Stephen Cummins, Director, University Public Engagement California State University, Chico.
“The meaningful impact he had on students, faculty, and staff cannot be overstated.”
--Erin Muggli, Project Manager, Office of the Provost, Boise State University
"Fantastic – interesting, insightful and engaging. As evidenced by the lively discussion that followed, Mr. Richtel proved he excelled at both substance and style."
-- Susan P. Baker, MPH Professor, Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
"Matt was one of the best closing speakers we have had for our GHSA Annual Meetings. When we select a closing luncheon speaker, we look for someone who will motivate attendees to stay throughout the conference as well as someone who can summarize many of the key issues. Matt was perfect at both of these tasks."
-- Barbara Harsha, Executive Director, Governors Highway Safety Association
"Matt Richtel is an enthusiastic and passionate speaker committed to the science, behavior, and dangers of distracted driving. While presenting at the Washington Traffic Safety Conference he kept the audience engaged and spell bound. His ability to tell the story paints a realistic picture of the consequences related to distracted driving, while describing the impacts of modern connectivity. It was clear that many conference attendees were charmed by his fun, informative, and interactive presentation. Matt’s presentation was a great way to conclude a powerful conference."
--Darrin Grondel, Director, Washington Traffic Safety Commission
“I rated (the speech) higher than excellent. Some of the responses on the feedback forms: ‘Superb speaker. Excellent topic. Very refreshing’; ‘Very good choice of speaker + subject – everyone has got an opinion on this!!’; ‘Fun and exciting’; ‘Brilliant, thought provoking talk.’”
-- Gerry Grenier, Staff Director, Publishing Technologies, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
"By presenting at the Summit, you have helped the state's law enforcement officers, engineers, health professionals, and many others stay on the cutting edge of traffic safety and aide all of us in our ultimate goal of preventing injuries and deaths on Michigan roads...your energy made it easy to stay engaged."
-- Michael L. Prince, Director, Office of Highway Safety Planning
"Matt is a wonderful, dynamic speaker and a pleasure to work with! He presented three programs for our school district, and he carefully tailored each for the different audiences. The first program was an assembly for roughly 500 high school students about the effects of technology on the brain, the fallacy of multitasking, and the perils of distracted driving. His passion for the subject, combined with his depth of scientific information, made for a riveting assembly. The second program was a discussion with 22 journalism students about his career as a writer and reporter. This was a very personal program, and he connected with the students and both encouraged and inspired them. They were absolutely thrilled to hear his stories and advice. The third program was an adult education program, based on Matt's reporting that is now compiled in A Deadly Wandering. This, too, was an engaging, informative and powerful program. Many parents expressed their gratitude for both the parent ed program and that their students had had an opportunity to hear similar information during their assembly. We hope to have Matt return to our school district again and again."
-- Julie Moll of the Association of Piedmont Parents
“Matt's visit to Boise State was a great success! He was generous, accommodating, and extremely well-informed. The meaningful impact he had on students, faculty, and staff cannot be overstated. Boise State welcomes Matt back any time.”
--Erin Muggli, Project Manager, Office of the Provost, Boise State University
"I wanted to thank you again for coming to Winona State. I have been working with the Common Book program for several years now, and I can say with confidence that your events were the most well-attended of any we have had in a number of years. Your keynote was in our largest auditorium—holding about 900 students—and it was full. But I think more importantly, students weren’t just attending, they were listening and engaging. I know that they really appreciated you taking the time to talk with them after the events as well. I have heard nothing but glowing reviews from students and faculty about the interview, panel, and keynote. I wanted to share with you a particular anecdote from a colleague: one of her students who attended the interview session was really impacted by the exercise where you made them think about how they felt about their phone going off and what it was like to “save” those messages for a bigger payoff later. The student has decided to wait a few minutes after class instead of checking her phone immediately so that she can allow her brain time to process the material she just learned rather than be distracted by the messages on her phone. That’s a pretty powerful impact."
--Elizabeth Zold, Assistant Professor of English, Winona State University
“Matt's ability to connect with an audience of scientists and engage them in meaningful conversations about the intersections of science and journalism were superb, and made clear how he is able to write so thoughtfully and captivatingly about highly technical scientific topics. That ability, along with his fantastic humor and genuine interest in everyone he met, made for a truly remarkable and successful event!”
-- Emily Kagey, Director of LSI Marketing and Communications, University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute
Praise for An Elegant Defense:
“A remarkable tale...Provocative. … Warm and heart-wrenching… Richtel is a gifted storyteller. … A story about cutting-edge science, humanely told...a thrilling ride.”
-- Matt McCarthy, USA Today
"Richtel brilliantly blurs the lines between biology primer, medical historical text and the traditional first-person patient story."
--Karen Iris Tucker, The Washington Post
“Deeply affecting… Richtel has exactly the right set of tools to explain how everything you know is wrong, why it’s wrong, and why that’s important — as well as what we actually now believe is right...A compelling modern history of—as well as an elegant defense for—the preeminent science of our time.”
--Los Angeles Review of Books
“Richtel approaches this essential subject with awe, his writing meticulous and empathic.”
--Booklist (Starred Review)
"Richtel illuminates a complex subject so well that even physicians will learn."
--Kirkus (Starred Review)
“A hard-to-put-down account of the body’s first line of defense.”
-- Publisher’s Weekly
“One of those rare nonfiction books that transcends the genre. ... A fascinating and engrossing account of the latest, and quite astonishing, discoveries involving the human immune system. ... An inspiring and wonderful read. ... I highly recommend this extraordinary book.”
--Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God
“A thorough, richly entertaining and just-wonky-enough beginner’s class in immunology through the case studies of four patients.”
--Wall Street Journal
“... a comprehensive and engaging primer on the ‘ever-vigilant, omnipresent peacekeeping force in the Festival of Life.’ The immune system plays an essential role in fighting infections and cancer and in regulating our normal health. Read this superb book to better understand one of the enduring mysteries of human biology.”
--Sandeep Jauhar, New York Times bestselling author of Heart: A History
Praise for Dead on Arrival:
“A high wire act of pure, exhilarating storytelling. From a stunner of an opening to an end I never saw coming, here is a book that will keep you glued to your seat and furiously turning pages. Grab a copy and prepare to lose a day.”
“Michael Crichton meets Stephen King at their finest: Topical and timely, with the creepiest opening chapters I’ve ever read, Dead on Arrival, Matt Richtel’s gripping and ominous new thriller, explores our fears about technology -- and proves they might be even more justified than we think.”
“Dead on Arrival joins the ranks of classic paranoid thrillers about human achievement run amok, with Stephen King’s The Stand and Michael Crichton’s Terminal Man. It’s hard to imagine a novel more timely.”
“If you’re looking for a heart-stopping thriller to pack for your summer vacation, look no further. ... Should keep you riveted until the very last page. ... Dead on Arrival is a must-read for Michael Crichton fans.”
--Dallas Morning News
“Similar in atmosphere and style to Michael Crichton and Stephen King. ... A race-against-the-clock thriller. The pacing is excellent. ... An enjoyable and gripping read.”
Praise for A Deadly Wandering:
“Richtel weaves in the latest research into the neuroscience of attention, distraction and addiction to create a portrait of our digital age that will deeply frighten you and cause you to re-evaluate many common aspects of your “connected” life. Not only is this an extraordinarily important book that everyone-and I mean everyone...should read, but it is also a gripping and moving story, beautifully researched and written. I simply could not put this book down. What a tour de force.”
-- Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of The Monster of Florence
“Matt Richtel’s riveting book is narrative nonfiction at its finest. A well-written true life account of tragedy, redemption and the public policy challenges of keeping pace with the march of technology. This book should be placed in every school and legislative chamber in the country.”
-- Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah
“A Deadly Wandering is the perfect companion to Matt Richtel’s Pulitzer-prize winning reporting on how technology impacts our attention, decisions, and daily lives. What’s more, this book does that most amazing of feats: it makes cutting-edge scientific research feel relevant to the choices we make every time we get in a car, sit at a desk or talk to our friends and family.”
-- Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit
“As an instructive social parable, Richtel’s densely reported... yet compassionate and persuasive book deserves a spot next to “Fast Food Nation” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” in America’s high school curriculums. To say it may save lives is self-evident.”
-- New York Times Book Review
“Americans are addicted to their technology, putting us on a modern-day collision course with very real consequences. Matt Richtel brilliantly tells the story of the aftermath of a deadly distracted driving crash. His portrait is riveting. I could not stop reading, and neither will you.”
-- Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
“Illuminates the perils of information overload... Raises fascinating and troubling issues about the cognitive impact of our technology.”
-- Publishers Weekly
“A Deadly Wandering examines the increasingly complex relationship we are having with our cell phones, sometimes to fatal consequences. Matt Richtel explains in a very clear and engaging way, how the human brain is compelled to use cell phones to stay connected and why our brains cannot simultaneously use a cell phone and drive safely. This is a must read for anyone who manages a corporate safety function or anyone who is concerned about the terrible toll of traffic crashes on our society.”
-- Deborah A.P. Hersman, president & CEO, National Safety Council
“Riveting. ... Interweaves research into attention and information overload with the wrenching story of Utah teenager Reggie Shaw’s tragic 2006 car crash, one of the first texting-and-driving cases in the U.S. ... Exhaustively researched. ... Richtel brings a novelist’s knack for unspooling narrative conflict to bear on Shaw’s real-life drama. ... Shaw is an emotionally relatable proxy for us all, most notably for an entire generation that has grown up, and acquired driver’s licenses, with their thumbs and attentional priorities affixed to their smartphones. ... Compelling.”
-- San Francisco Chronicle
Praise for The Cloud:
“A pulse-pounding, down-the-rabbit-hole-tale where everyone has a secret, information comes at a deadly price, and danger is always closer than you think. Be prepared to stay up very late; this book is worth it!”
-- Lisa Gardner
Praise for Devil's Plaything:
“With Devil’s Plaything, Matt Richtel confirms what his first novel suggested: that he’s the absolute master of crafting amazing fiction around cutting edge science. Richtel’s singular gift is his ability to convey the human components of technological change. This is an utterly absorbing read -- gripping, exciting, touching and terrifying. ”
-- David Liss
Praise for The Doomsday Equation:
“A high-tech, mile-a-minute, lone-guy-against-the-world masterpiece.”
-- Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series
“When it comes to ripped-from-the-headlines scientific thrillers, Matt Richtel knows his stuff. I await each of his novels as a blockbuster event. And The Doomsday Equation blew me away, topping his best work to date. Here is a novel full of cutting-edge intrigue on a global scale but rooted in a character that left burning through pages to discover his fate. The only problem: now I must wait until Matt’s next book to experience such a thrill ride again.”
-- James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Sixth Extinction