Gary Rivlin

Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter | Author of ten books, including Katrina: After the Flood and Saving Main Street

Gary has done both daily and long-form journalism for everyone from The New York Times Magazine to Wired to Newsweek to the American Bar Association Journal.

Gary Rivlin is a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter and the author of ten books, including Katrina: After the Flood and Saving Main Street (2022). His work has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, Fortune, GQ, and Wired, among other publications. He is a two-time Gerald Loeb Award winner and a former reporter for the New York Times. He lives in New York with his wife, theater director Daisy Walker, and two sons.

Speech topics

Saving Main Street

When Gary Rivlin started writing his 10th book, he figured he'd be hitting the road to chronicle a great small-business die-off but instead witnessed something uplifting which made the resulting book, SAVING MAIN STREET, a surprisingly upbeat tale. Despite all the forces aligned against small businesses, none of the businesses Gary followed went under during the pandemic. TJ, the chef-owner of an Italian restaurant just outside of Scranton; Vilma, the immigrant-owner of a hair salon in the small Pennsylvania city of Hazleton; three black siblings crafting high-end chocolates in the Bronx; Glenda, the owner of a “non-life sustaining” gift shop in rural PA. They each had his or her challenges and dark moments but they displayed grit and fortitude and creativity and all survived.

And it wasn’t just them. The stats show that far, far fewer small businesses went under than initially feared. To a super-strain of entrepreneur —that had made it to 2020, surviving chains, big box stores, the internet, globalization, etc. — Covid just proved the latest threat to overcome. Plus, something you don't hear very often: government assistance worked. PPP, for instance, was ill-conceived, inefficient and skewered toward bigger players, but it's amazing what happens when you direct nearly $1 trillion to help small businesses and also provide hundreds of billions in stimulus dollars to much of the country.

Gary shares these stories and the lessons your business, no matter the size, can learn from their perseverance and strength in the face of great adversity.


Saving Main Street: Small Business in the Time of COVID-19

A veteran journalist follows an inspiring ensemble cast of small business owners fighting to keep their businesses alive through Covid-19, while exploring the sweeping trends and government policies that had brought small businesses to the breaking point long before the coronavirus hit.

Masters at Work

“Masters of Work” is a new career series Simon & Schuster launched in 2019. These are all shorter books heavy on character: the stories of people who’ve made it in a profession. How they got where they got. (Spoiler: It’s rarely a straight path.) What they’ve learned along the way, including the risks and rewards of our dream jobs. And advice for those who might want to follow in their wake. More info here.

Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.―How the Working Poor Became Big Business

From the author of the New York Times Notable Book of the Year Drive By comes a unique and riveting exploration of one of America’s largest and fastest-growing industries—the business of poverty. Broke, USA is a Fast Food Nation for the “poverty industry”

Katrina: After the Flood

Ten years in the making, Gary Rivlin’s Katrina is “a gem of a book—well-reported, deftly written, tightly focused….a starting point for anyone interested in how The City That Care Forgot develops in its second decade of recovery” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

The Godfather of Silicon Valley: Ron Conway and the Fall of the Dot-coms

Gary Rivlin tells the story of Ron Conway, the man who has placed more bets on Internet start-ups than anyone eise in Silicon Valley.

Drive-By: A Work of Nonfiction

Although the dreadful toll of random violence is often reported, rarely do we glimpse the human element behind it. News reports keep the tally of homicides, but as the occurrence of such violence increases, so does its facelessness.

The Plot to Get Bill Gates: An Irreverent Investigation of the World's Richest Man... and the People Who Hate Him

To understand the magnitude of Bill Gates, one must first understand the people who hate him, most of whom suffer from an acute case of "Bill Envy."

Fire on the Prairie: Chicago's Harold Washington and the Politics of Race

Chicago--a name synonymous with tough urban politics and racial conflict. In 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr., set the nation's sights on the city when he said, If we crack Chicago, then we crack the world.

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