Matthew Stevenson was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, attending first public and later private schools. He studied political science at Bucknell University from 1972 to 1976, although he spent his junior year with the Institute of European Studies in London and Vienna.
He received a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University, where he specialized in foreign policy and international economics. Later he served as president of the alumni association.
His first job was at Harper’s Magazine, where as associate editor he commissioned and edited pieces about politics, economics, and literature. In 1978, he also began publishing articles in national magazines, to which he has since contributed on subjects as diverse as the Russian economy, World War II, the Afghan war, and raising children.
He is the author of Letters of Transit: Essays on Travel, History, Politics and Family Life Abroad, Mentioned in Dispatches: The Travel Essays of an Expatriate American and An April Across America.
His most recent books are The Revolution as a Dinner Party: Across China with Edgar Snow, Mao Tse-tung, Josephn Stilwell, Chiang Kai-shek, and Sun Yat-sen; Appalachia Spring; Reading the Rails; Remembering the Twentieth Century Limited, a collection of historical essays; and Whistle Stopping America. He edited Rules of the Game: The Best Sports Writing from Harper’s Magazine and, most recently, Incurable: A Life After Diagnosis, by Charles Harris. His next book is Biking with Bismarck: A Little Tour in France.
His business experience includes broad experience as a chief executive officer in Australia and Switzerland (1983 - 2004), and he has worked in trade finance, wealth management, investment banking, consulting, and wine, based in Geneva, Switzerland since 1991. He is also the host of a radio broadcast, The Travel Hour.
His online column, Common Financial Sense, drew wide praise. He remains a contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine, and his work has appeared in a diverse number of publications, such as Forbes, the International Herald Tribune, American Scholar, New Geography, and Texas Observer.
He wrote a periodic column for Le Temps on the US election. He was a panelist on World Radio Switzerland’s Not So Foreign Affairs. His Bicycle Videos appear on Vimeo. His political commentary appears on CounterPunch.