Mark Pendergrast

"Pendergrast is an affable guide on a wondrously labyrinthine tour. He explains complex phenomena with remarkable clarity, in a relaxed tone, and with a sense of humor." —Philadelphia Inquirer
"Mark Pendergrast, the ultimate free-lance journalist with an eclectic mind, writes about deceptively narrow topics that in fact have figured in world history for millennia." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mark Pendergrast speaks at universities, schools of public health, business conferences, management seminars, and psychological meetings. His presentations are tailored to his audience but are always entertaining, thought-provoking, and challenging. Contact him to arrange an event. Click here for links to speeches, TV, and radio appearances. Click here for comments on his presentations.

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City on the Verge


City on the Verge: Atlanta and the fight for America’s Urban Future

Atlanta is on the verge of tremendous rebirth — or inexorable decline. A kind of Petri dish for cities struggling to reinvent themselves, Atlanta has the highest income inequality in the country, gridlocked highways, suburban sprawl, and a history of racial injustice. Yet it is also an energetic, brash young city that prides itself on pragmatic solutions and its ability to rise Phoenix-like yet again.

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Beyond Fair Trade


Beyond Fair Trade: How One Small Coffee Company Helped Transform a Hillside Village in Thailand

The Akha hill tribe of Thailand has a long, tumultuous history. Politics, economics, violence, prejudice, and deforestation consistently worked against the Akha’s desire to move away from their dependency on opium production and create a stable future for their children. That all changed in 2006 when prominent businessman John Darch met entrepreneur Wicha Promyong.

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For God, Country and Coca Cola


For God, Country & Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It

Third Edition

For God, Country & Coca-Cola is a cultural, social, and economic history of America as seen through the green glass of a Coke bottle. And what a quintessentially American tale it is. Coca-Cola began humbly as a patent medicine amid the fervor and chaos of Reconstruction Atlanta. A shrewd marketeer saw its value as a beverage, and it rapidly grew through the Gilded Age to become the dominant consumer product of the American Century.

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Japans's Tipping Point


Japan’s Tipping Point

Japan’s Tipping Point is a small book on a huge topic. In the post-Fukushima era, Japan is the “canary in the coal mine” for the rest of the world. Can Japan radically shift its energy policy, become greener, more self-sufficient, and avoid catastrophic impacts on the climate? Mark Pendergrast arrived in Japan exactly two months after the Fukushima meltdown. This book is his eye-opening account of his trip and his alarming conclusions

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Inside the Outbreaks


Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service

Mark Pendergrast takes readers on a riveting journey through the history of this remarkable organization, following EIS officers on their globetrotting quest to eliminate the most lethal and widespread threats to the world’s health. Over the years they have successfully battled polio, cholera, and smallpox, and in recent years have turned to the epidemics killing us now — smoking, obesity, and violence among them.

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Inside the Outbreaks


Mirror Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair With Reflection

Of all human inventions, the mirror is perhaps the most intriguing, since it is so closely connected to our own consciousness, reflecting both reality and illusion. As our first technology for self-contemplation, the mirror is arguably as important an invention as the wheel and perhaps even more universal (the Incas, who had mirrors, did not invent wheels). Mirror Mirror is the fascinating story of the mirror’s invention, refinement, and use in an astonishing range of human activities — from the bloodthirsty smoking gods of the Aztecs to the fantastic mirrored rooms wealthy Romans created for their orgies, to the mirror’s key role in gathering light from the far reaches of the universe.

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Uncommon Grounds


Uncommon Grounds:
The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World

Second Edition

Uncommon Grounds tells the epic story of coffee. From its discovery on an ancient Ethiopian hillside to its role as communal elixir in the Age of Starbucks, coffee has dominated and molded the economies, politics, and social structures of entire countries. One of the world’s most valuable agricultural commodities, coffee delivers the largest jolt of the world’s most widely taken psychoactive drug. Revolutions have been planned, romances sparked, business deals sealed, novels written, and friendships cemented over this potent brew.

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Victims of Memory


Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives

Second Edition

“An impressive display of scholarship…a comprehensive treatment of the recovered-memories controversy…. Pendergrast offers a broader portrayal of the social and cultural contexts of the recovered-memories phenomenon [than other books on the subject]. His treatment is also distinguished by some welcome historical perspective…. Pendergrast demonstrates a laudable ability to lay out all sides of the argument…. [He] renders a sympathetic portrayal of recovery therapists as well-intentioned but misinformed players in a drama that has veered out of control.” — Daniel L. Schacter, Scientific American

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Mark also writes children’s books:

Mark Pendergrast helped to edit and facilitate the publication of these outstanding books:


Mark Pendergrast appeared in these documentaries:


Help the National Center for Reason and Justice

Mark Pendergrast is a volunteer with the National Center for Reason and Justice, a non-profit organization that educates and advocates for child-protective laws and criminal justice practices based on science, fairness, and good sense, and that supports people who are falsely accused or convicted of crimes against children. If you want to help those whose lives are upended by such false allegations, contact the NCRJ. Mark also corresponds with prisoners in solitary confinement (a form of legalized torture) through Solitary Watch.

Give a Micro-Credit Loan Through Kiva.Org

Mark Pendergrast has donated $100 to, which is a wonderful way to keep four $25 micro-credit loans circulating at any given time to entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Togo, Uganda, Philippines, Cambodia, Pakistan, Peru, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua.... in developing countries around the world. Please consider loaning $25 or more. You can make such a difference from your home computer. Once the loan is repaid, you can take your money back or re-loan it.

Mark Pendergrast is also a singer

Mark began singing Broadway tunes as a kid along with his parents during road trips and harmonized with his older brother to Kingston Trio songs. Now he is in a great Vermont choral group called Social Band and has begun to put poetry to music for Social Band concerts. Here are links.

"One Leaf"

"Green Mountain Idyll"

"Ah! Sunflower"

As part of Social Band, Mark got to sing in a quartet, beginning with a solo here:


Mark also enjoys harmonizing in folk duos. Here are a few samples:

"Night Rider's Lament" with Lily Jacobson

"Streamwalk" with Sophia Donforth

"Flying" with Sophia Donforth

"Your Daughters and Your Sons" with Sophia Donforth

"Don't Need This Body" with Michael Wilson

"Let Them In, Peter" with Kevin Dann

"Last Kiss" with Steve LeClair

"Kumbaya" with Wicha Promyong (1950-2014), a tribute to a compassionate visionary who helped the village of Doi Chang succeed with coffee.

"Donald Trump Satiracal Song," which Mark wrote several months before the election of Mr. Trump