Sandy Tolan is associate professor of journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC and author of Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land and The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East.
Sandy is a co-founder of Homelands Productions. Since 1982, he has produced dozens of documentaries and features for NPR, Public Radio International, American Public Media, and other public radio outlets. Much of his focus has been on land, water, natural resources, and indigenous affairs in the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Central Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia.
His programs have won numerous awards, including three from the Overseas Press Club, the DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton, three Robert F. Kennedy awards for reporting on the disadvantaged, a Harry Chapin World Hunger Year award, and a United Nations Gold Medal award. Sandy was a 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, and dozens of other publications.
His latest book, Children of the Stone (Bloomsbury USA, 2015), grew out of two radio stories Sandy produced, one in 1998 and the other in 2010, about a young Palestinian viola player who realized his dream of creating music schools for Palestinian children. Critics have called the book “eye-opening,” “heart-rending,” “riveting,” “uplifting,” and “alive with compassion, hope, and great inspiration.”
His previous book, The Lemon Tree (Bloomsbury USA, 2006), was based on his award-winning documentary for NPR’s Fresh Air about a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman whose families lived in the same house before and after the founding of Israel. The book won a Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit” and was Booklist’s “Editor’s Choice” for best adult non-fiction book of 2006. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His first book, Me and Hank (Free Press, 2000), is an exploration of heroes and race relations in America through the experience of baseball slugger Hank Aaron.
From 2002 to 2007, Sandy directed the International Reporting Project at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2007, his students won the George Polk Award for a series for print and radio on the early signs of climate change around the world. It was the first time students had been honored in the history of the awards.