John Shelton Reed is a sociologist and essayist, author or editor of twenty books, most of them dealing with the contemporary American South. Reed has also written for a variety of non-academic publications such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and the Oxford American. He was graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964 and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1971. He taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1969 until his retirement in 2000 as William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of sociology and director of the Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. While at UNC he helped to found the Center for the Study of the American South and was a founding co-editor of the quarterly Southern Cultures.