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Profiles the first participants of the "Teach for America" project, which recruited college graduates to spend two years teaching in America's toughest schools

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Michael Shapiro is a writer, photographer and interviewer who specializes in travel. He’s the author of A Sense of Place and works part-time as an editor at The Press Democrat, in Santa Rosa, Calif.

He is the author of A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration (Travelers’ Tales) a collection of interviews with Bill Bryson, Frances Mayes, Paul Theroux, Peter Matthiessen, Tim Cahill, Jan Morris, Pico Iyer, Isabel Allende, Simon Winchester, and many others. Shapiro’s story about rafting through the Grand Canyon in the wake of John Wesley Powell’s first descent is in The Best Travel Writing 2011. His essay, “The Longest Day” appears in The Best Travel Writing 2005.

His feature about Jan Morris’s Wales was the cover story of the May/June 2006 issue of National Geographic Traveler. Shapiro has written about Kauai for Islands magazine and interviewed Studs Terkel for The Sun, a literary journal. His story on Mongolia’s Nadaam festival ran in the Washington Post’s travel section.

Recently he has interviewed some of the world’s most talented musicians, including BB King, Smokey Robinson, Merle Haggard, Natalie Merchant, Brian Wilson, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch and Greg Brown. He also interviewed Donald Fagan of Steely Dan, Steve Howe of YES, and the inimitable Richard Thompson. See links to stories on the home page.

Shapiro has biked through Cuba for the Washington Post, celebrated Holy Week in Guatemala for the Dallas Morning News, and floated down the Mekong River on a Laotian cargo barge for an online travel magazine. His work also appears in the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times.

Shapiro contributed the text to Guatemala: A Journey Through the Land of the Maya a pictorial book with luminous images by Kraig Lieb, a photographer for Lonely Planet.

Before turning to travel literature, Shapiro researched online travel and wrote two books about using the Net for travel, including Internet Travel Planner. His first book on Net-travel topics appeared in 1997 — subsequent editions appeared in 2000 and 2002. In 1994, he helped develop the first Web directory and magazine, Global Network Navigator, created by O’Reilly Media. Shapiro spent a year working for CNET, an online tech-news site, before embarking on a freelance career in 1998.

The Society of American Travel Writers recognized Shapiro with a 1998 Lowell Thomas award in the “Travel News and Investigative Reporting” category. Shapiro has appeared on national television networks including CNN and PBS, as well as on radio shows ranging from KGO’s “On the Go” to KPFA’s “Morning Show.” He teaches annually at the Book Passage travel writers conference near San Francisco.

Michael lives in Sonoma County, spending his free time cycling, river rafting, sea kayaking and volunteering for ETC, a group that takes disabled people on outdoor adventures.