Dan Wakefield’s blog, novels, memoirs, and journalism

Dan Wakefield, 1932-2024

“Dan Wakefield, a versatile and adroit writer who chronicled the civil rights movement as a journalist, recounted his journey from atheism to Christianity as a memoirist, and explored questions of love, friendship, joy and despair as a novelist, notably in his best-selling book “Going All the Way,” died March 13 at a care center in Miami. He was 91.” — The Washington Post

“Dan Wakefield, a protean and prolific journalist, novelist, screenwriter, critic and essayist who explored subjects as diverse as life in New York City in the 1950s, the American civil rights movement, the wounds that war inflicts on individuals and society, and, not least, his personal journey from religious faith to atheism and back again, died on Wednesday in Miami. He was 91.” — The New York Times

Except for the above notes of Dan’s passing, this website remains as he last requested it be, including notes on talks and events he was honored to be a part of in early 2023.

Going All the Way
Going All the Way turns 50 this year.

Introducing the new Naptown series podcast

A new 10-episode series with Susan Neville and myself. Recorded and produced at Butler University on topics related to the arts, culture, Kurt Vonnegut, history, writing, and more.

The first episode discusses my book, Going All the Way, and is available now.

Enjoy time at home with these podcasts

Naptown, Season One: Dan Wakefield

with host Susan Neville

Episode One: Old White Guy Gets Woke

When Dan Wakefield moved back to his hometown of Indianapolis in 2005, he saw it with a different lens and was re-awakened, in his 80s, to the history of racism and the erasure of Midwestern black culture that he had been blind to as a child.

Episode Two: Kurt Vonnegut

At the time of this taping, Wakefield was Kurt Vonnegut’s “oldest living friend.” It was Vonnegut who wrote the New York Times review of Wakefield’s Going All the Way and it’s Wakefield who posthumously edited Vonnegut’s stories, letters, and graduation speeches. 

Episode Three: Emmet Till Trial and C. Wright Mills

In 1955, Wakefield graduated from Columbia University and went looking for his first job. Through Indianapolis connections, he landed an interview with Barney Kilgore, editor of The Wall Street Journal. He wasn’t, Kilgore told him, quite ready for the Journal, but he was given a reporting job at a small paper in Princeton, New Jersey, where every day he watched Albert Einstein walk to work.

Episode Four: The Columbia Years

Dan had the opportunity to study under some of the greatest teachers/writers/critics of the 20th century, including Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren.

Select eBooks by Dan Wakefield

NY in the 50s

“A precise and moving recreation of a time and a place when the world seemed small and we knew everyone in it.”

– Joan Didion

Going All the Way
Available as paperback and eBook

 “Having written this book, Dan Wakefield will never be able to go back to Indianapolis. He will have to watch the 500-mile race on television.” 

 – Kurt Vonnegut, “Oversexed in Indianapolis” (Life Magazine review)

“Dan Wakefield’s Selling Out does for Hollywood what William Tecumseh Sherman did for Atlanta. This is a novel that flat out burns – killing funny, killing sad, fires everywhere. Wakefield takes no prisoners.

   -Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried.

Story of your Life

“What a wonderful book is Dan Wakefield’s The Story of Your Life. It will help many people to write their own spiritual autobiographies… And I suspect that many readers are going to want to take one of Wakefield’s workshops in writing your spiritual autobiography.”

– Madeline L’Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time

Available as paperback and eBook

 “This is a quietly explosive book. It’s part of America, like apple pie and Pabst.”
    – The Atlanta Journal      

 “He pulls it off. The question that remains is just how did he manage to work such magic?”           – The New York Times

From the Desk of Dan Wakefield
A look back at my media and podcast appearances in 2020
As the year comes to a close, I invite all of you to join me and look back at my 2020 podcast appearances.
The unlikely Miami Heat fan who lives in Celtics’ Brad Stevens’ old Indianapolis house
Author Dan Wakefield watches — from the house Celtics coach Brad Stevens once rented — as his Miami Heat take a 3-1 series lead over the Celtics Wednesday. Photo by Jake Query. Written by: Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star INDIANAPOLIS — Dan Wakefield sits in his …
My appearance on the Still Left Out in America podcast
I spoke with Pat LaMarche on the Still Left Out in America podcast, a part of the Charles Bruce Foundation. We talk about the Emmet Till murder trial, writing, and times with Kurt Vonnegut. You can watch the full 45-minute piece here:
Going All The Way (again) at The Red Key Tavern
On Tuesday afternoon, August 18, we held a “socially distanced book signing” outside on the patio of The Red Key Tavern for the 50th anniversary of my novel Going All The Way. Twelve people signed up on my website to come at fifteen minute intervals from …

Read more of Dan’s blogs…

More from Dan

Indianapolis Monthly has been nominated for 14 different awards
My piece, “How an old white guy got woke” was nominated for best in Essays/ Criticism/ Commentary.

“The crowds are gone and this Delta town is back to its silent, solid life that is based on cotton and the proposition that a whole race of men was created to pick it.”
65 years ago as a young journalist for The Nation, I was sent to Mississippi to cover the trial of Emmett Till, a 15-year-old boy who allegedly whistled at a white woman. You can read the full story at The Nation.

   “Human narrative, through all its visible length, gives empphatic signs of arising from the profoundest needs  of one fragile species. Sacred story is the perfect answer given by the world to the hunger of that species for true consolation. The fact that we hunger has not precluded food.

– Reynolds Price, A Palpable God

Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Philo of Alexandria

Dan Wakefield

Dan Wakefield

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