Born in New York City in 1945, Kidder spent his childhood in Oyster Bay, Long Island, where his father was a lawyer and his mother a teacher. He attended Harvard, where he earned a BA in 1967. From June 1968 until June 1969, he served as a lieutenant in Vietnam, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star, an experience chronicled in his memoir My Detachment. Following the war, Kidder obtained his MA from the University of Iowa, where he attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It was there that Kidder met Atlantic Monthly contributing editor Dan Wakefield, who helped him get his first assignment for the magazine as a freelance writer.
Over the years, Kidder’s articles have covered a broad array of topics, ranging from railroads to energy, architecture, and the environment. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The New York Times Book Review and The New York Times OpEd page. Kidder lives with his wife in western Massachusetts and Maine. His next book of narrative nonfiction will be published in fall 2016.