Richard Kluger

Kluger headshot TO USE
Born in Paterson, NJ in 1934, Richard Kluger grew up in Manhattan, graduated from the Horace Mann School and Princeton University, where he won honors as an English literature major and his principal interest was the undergraduate newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, of which he served as chairman in 1955-56. He withdrew from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where he had been campus correspondent for The New York Times, to join The Wall Street Journal as a copy editor and in 1957 married the former Phyllis Schlain. After launching and operating a weekly newspaper in Rockland County, NY for two years before selling it, he worked as a reporter for the New York Post and Forbes magazine and then became the literary editor of the New York Herald Tribune and its Book Week review section. When the Tribune went out of business in 1966, Kluger entered the book industry, serving as executive editor of Simon & Schuster, editor-in-chief of Atheneum, and publisher of Charterhouse Books, his own imprint in conjunction with David McKay Co.

As a moonlighting author, Kluger published two novels,
When the Bough Breaks and National Anthem, satirizing American social mores. Moved by the social upheavals sweeping across the US in the 1960s, Kluger left book publishing and devoted six years, starting in 1968, to researching and writing Simple Justice (1976), generally regarded as the definitive account of the US Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing racially segregated public schools. His second nonfiction work was The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune (1986). Both were National Book Award finalists. Ashes to Ashes, his following book, is a critical history of the cigarette industry and its lethal toll on the public’s health; it won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 1997. Kluger went on to write three other works of history, dealing with the relentless expansion of America’s national boundaries, a tragic mid-19th century clash between white settlers and tribal natives in territorial Washington, and the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger and the origins of press freedom in the New World.

Of his seven novels, the most widely read are
Members of the Tribe and The Sheriff of Nottingham, both anchored in historical events. Two of his novels were co-authored with his wife Phyllis, who often assisted him with research for his historical works. The Klugers have lived near San Francisco since 2003.

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