Joshua Hammer was born in New York and educated at Horace Mann and Princeton University, graduating with a BA in English literature. In 1988 he joined Newsweek Magazine as a business and media writer, transitioning to the magazine's foreign correspondent corps in 1992. Hammer served, successively, as bureau chief in Nairobi, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Berlin, Jerusalem, and Cape Town, and also was the magazine's Correspondent at Large in 2005 and 2006. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in the 2004-2005 academic year.
Since 2006 Hammer has been an independent foreign correspondent based in Berlin. Hammer is a contributing editor at Smithsonian Magazine and Outside, writes frequently for the New York Review of Books, and has contributed often to GQ, the New York Times Magazine, and countless other US publications. He was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in reporting in 2003, and won the award, for his writing about the Ebola crisis in West Africa, in 2016. He is also the author of four non-fiction books, including the New York Times bestseller, "The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu," which was published by Simon & Schuster in April 2016. Hammer lives with his partner and their five-year-old son, and a mile away from his two older sons (and ex-wife) in the Wilmersdorf neighborhood in western Berlin, where he continues, sadly, to wrestle with the German language after more than 10 years of using Germany as a base. He's also hard at work on his new book, tentatively titled "The Falcon Thief," about a notorious wildlife smuggler and the British detective who finally ran him in. S&S will publish it, if all goes according to plan, in 2019.