Alum Stephen Rodrick (MSJ91) to discuss new book

The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications welcomes author Stephen Rodrick (MSJ91) on Thursday, May 23 at 4 p.m. for a discussion about his new book, “The Magical Stranger: A Son's Journey into His Father's Life.” Rodrick will be speaking at the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, Evanston. 

In the recently published “The Magical Stranger,” Rodrick explores the life and death of the man who indelibly shaped his life, even as he remained a mystery: brilliant but unknowable, sacred but absent— an apparition gone 200 days of the year for much of his young son’s life— a born leader who gave his son little direction. 

On Nov. 28, 1979, Commander Peter Rodrick died when his plane crashed in the Indian Ocean. He was just 36 years old and had been the commanding officer of his squadron for 127 days. Eight thousand miles away on Whidbey Island, near Seattle, he left behind a wife who never recovered, two daughters and a 13-year-old son who would grow up to be a writer— one who was drawn to write about his father, his family, and the devastating consequences of military service.

To better understand his father and his own experience growing up without him, Rodrick turned to current members of his father's former squadron, spending nearly two years with VAQ-135, “The World-Famous Black Ravens.” His travels took him around the world, from Okinawa and Hawaii to Bahrain and the Persian Gulf —but always back to Whidbey Island, Wash., the setting of his family’s own story.

"Stephen Rodrick is the kind of writer -- longform, books and more -- that our students aspire to be,” said Associate Professor Patti Wolter. “We are thrilled to have him come back and share his wisdom with Medill.”

“Magical Stranger” is Rodrick’s first book. He is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and a contributing editor for Men's Journal. He has also written for New York magazine, Rolling Stone, GQ and The New Republic. His work has been anthologized four times in “The Best American Sports Writing” and has also been anthologized in “The Best American Crime Writing,” “The Best American Political Writing,” “Wild Stories: The Best of Men's Journal,” “Going Long: The Best Stories From Runner's World,” and “The Philadelphia Reader,” a best of Philadelphia magazine compilation.

Before becoming a journalist, Rodrick worked as a deputy press secretary for U. S. Senator Alan J. Dixon. He has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in political science from Loyola University of Chicago. Rodrick received a master’s in journalism from Medill in 1991.

This event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase at the event. 

For more information on the May 23 lecture, contact Belinda Clarke at or (847) 491-3636.