Mahlon Meyer is a historian with a unique background. He was a journalist in Asia for more than a decade, mostly for Newsweek magazine where he was an award-winning staff correspondent based in Hong Kong, covering areas as diverse as Taiwan's democracy, China's economic rise, and the growing influence of China in southeast Asia. He also rose to national prominence in the Chinese media market as a daily participant in China's equivalent of CNN's "Crossfire," a debate program in which he pitted his wits (in Mandarin Chinese) against leading public intellectuals and business figures. The program, carried by Phoenix Television, reached the upper echelons of Chinese society and was closely watched by China's leadership, resulting, in 2003, in an invitation for Mahlon to follow Tony Blair in a lecture series at China's equivalent of M.I.T., Qinghua University. Mahlon was then invited to publish his memoirs in Chinese by a foreign ministry press in Beijing, which was published the following year. When he left Asia, to return to the United States for a Ph.D. and to enter academia, he found that, upon starting to teach, many of the visiting Chinese students already knew of him and had read his autobiography. At the University of Washington, where his courseload has included courses on modern China, a survey of Chinese civilization, China-Taiwan relations and Late Imperial China, he has, because of his background, developed a special connection with the large number of Chinese and and Taiwanese students, serving as a liasion and advisor. A recent article in the Economist, (February, 2011), in which he is quoted, explores this issue.
Mahlon has published two books besides his memoir in Chinese, one of them a collection of articles about leaders of Taiwan's democracy movement, the other, just released, a popular history about the complicated reunions Chinese families are facing after fifty years of separation, "Remembering China from Taiwan, Divided Families and Bittersweet Reunions after the Chinese Civil War," which he researched by conducting oral interviews with surviving soldiers of the 1949 retreat from China after the communist victory, their families on Taiwan and their family members "left behind" in China. Mahlon speaks and writes fluent Chinese. He was educated at Stanford University, Harvard University and the University of Washington. He also spent one year as an elective graduate student in the department of Chinese Literature in Taiwan University. He is also the author of published short fiction. He is married, has a dog and lives in Seattle. He has been teaching at neighboring Pacific Lutheran University, including creative writing and history courses.