John Hersey
John Richard Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning American writer and journalist considered one of the earliest practitioners of the so-called New Journalism
New Journalism
New Journalism was a style of 1960s and 1970s news writing and journalism which used literary techniques deemed unconventional at the time. The term was codified with its current meaning by Tom Wolfe in a 1973 collection of journalism articles he published as The New Journalism, which included...

, in which storytelling devices of the novel are fused with non-fiction reportage. Hersey's account of the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

, Japan, was adjudged the finest piece of journalism of the 20th century by a 36-member panel under the aegis of New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

's journalism department.

Early life

Born in Tientsin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

, China, to missionaries
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 Roscoe and Grace Baird Hersey, John Hersey learned to speak Chinese before he spoke English. Hersey's 1985 novel, The Call
The Call
- Publications :* The Call , a newspaper in Kansas City, Missouri, serving the Black American community* The New York Call, sometimes simply called The Call, a Socialist newspapter published by the Socialist Party of America...

, is closely based on the lives of his parents and several other missionaries of their generation. He returned to the United States with his family when he was ten years old. Later Hersey attended the Hotchkiss School
Hotchkiss School
The Hotchkiss School is an independent, coeducational American college preparatory boarding school located in Lakeville, Connecticut. Founded in 1891, the school enrolls students in grades 9 through 12 and a small number of postgraduates...

, followed by Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, where he was a member of Skull and Bones Society.Hersey lettered in football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 at Yale, was coached by Ducky Pond
Ducky Pond
Raymond W. "Ducky" Pond was an American football and baseball player and coach of football in the United States. He served as the head football coach at Yale University from 1934 to 1940 and at Bates College in 1941 and from 1946 to 1951, compiling career college football record of...

, Greasy Neale and Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, and was a teammate of Yale's two Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 winners, Larry Kelley
Larry Kelley
Lawrence Morgan "Larry" Kelley was an American football player born in Conneaut, Ohio. He played end, for Yale University. While at Yale he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and Skull and Bones, and was the second winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1936, the year it was renamed in honor...

 and Clint Frank
Clint Frank
Clinton E. Frank was an American football player. He played halfback for Yale University.-College years:...

. He subsequently was a graduate student at Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 as a Mellon Fellow
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York City and Princeton, New Jersey in the United States, is a private foundation with five core areas of interest, endowed with wealth accumulated by the late Andrew W. Mellon of the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the product of the 1969...

. Following his time at Cambridge, Hersey got a summer job as private secretary and driver for author Sinclair Lewis
Sinclair Lewis
Harry Sinclair Lewis was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of...

 in 1937, but he chafed at his duties, and that fall he began work at Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

, where he was hired after writing an essay on the magazine's dismal quality. Two years later he was transferred to Times Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...


During World War II, newsweekly correspondent Hersey covered fighting in Europe as well as Asia, writing articles for
Time as well as Life magazine. He accompanied Allied troops on their invasion of Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, survived four airplane crashes, and was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for his role in helping evacuate wounded soldiers from Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...


At the close of the conflict, during the winter of 1945–46, Hersey was in Japan, reporting for
The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

 on the reconstruction of the devastated country, when he stumbled across a document written by a Jesuit missionary who had survived the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The journalist paid a call on the missionary, who introduced him to other survivors.

Reporting from Hiroshima

Shortly afterwards John Hersey began discussions with William Shawn
William Shawn
William Shawn was an American magazine editor who edited The New Yorker from 1952 until 1987.-Education and Early Life:...

, an editor at The New Yorker, about a lengthy piece about the previous summer's bombing. Hersey proposed a story that would convey the cataclysmic narrative through six individuals who survived: the Jesuit priest, a widowed seamstress, two doctors, a minister, and a young woman who worked in a factory. The following May, 1946, Hersey traveled to Japan, where he spent three weeks doing research and interviewing survivors. He returned to America in late June and began writing.

The result was his most notable work, the 31,000-word article "Hiroshima", which appeared in the August 31, 1946 issue of The New Yorker. The story dealt with the atomic bomb dropped on that Japanese city on August 6, 1945, and its effects on the six Japanese citizens. The article took up the entire issue of the magazine – something The New Yorker had never done before, nor has it since.

The issue of August 31, 1946, arrived in subscribers' mailboxes bearing a light-hearted cover of a summer picnic in a park. There was no hint what lay inside. Hersey's article began where the magazine's regular "Talk of the Town" column ran, immediately following the theater listings.

At the bottom of the page, the editors had appended a short note: "TO OUR READERS. The New Yorker this week devotes its entire editorial space to an article on the almost complete obliteration of a city by one atomic bomb, and what happened to the people of that city. It does so in the conviction that few of us have yet comprehended the all but incredible destructive power of this weapon, and that everyone might well take time to consider the terrible implications of its use. The Editors."

A searing portrait of the bomb and its effects, the article was a publishing sensation. In clear, stripped-down prose, Hersey limned the horrifying aftermath of the atomic device: soldiers' melted eyeballs, citizens instantly vaporized, leaving only their shadows etched onto walls. The issue sold out on newsstands within hours. Requests for reprints poured in to the magazine's offices. The ABC Radio Network preempted regular programming to broadcast the full text in four half-hour programs. Radio stations abroad followed suit. The Book of the Month Club
Book of the Month Club
The Book of the Month Club is a United States mail-order book sales club that offers a new book each month to customers.The Book of the Month Club is part of a larger company that runs many book clubs in the United States and Canada. It was formerly the flagship club of Book-of-the-Month Club, Inc...

 rushed a copy of the article into book format, which it sent to members as a free selection.

Later published by Alfred A. Knopf
Alfred A. Knopf
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. is a New York publishing house, founded by Alfred A. Knopf, Sr. in 1915. It was acquired by Random House in 1960 and is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group at Random House. The publishing house is known for its borzoi trademark , which was designed by co-founder...

 as a book, Hersey's work is often cited as one of the earliest examples of New Journalism
New Journalism
New Journalism was a style of 1960s and 1970s news writing and journalism which used literary techniques deemed unconventional at the time. The term was codified with its current meaning by Tom Wolfe in a 1973 collection of journalism articles he published as The New Journalism, which included...

 in its melding of elements of non-fiction reportage with the pace and devices of the novel. Hersey's spartan prose was praised by critics as a model of understated narrative. "If ever there was a subject calculated to make a writer overwrought and a piece overwritten, it was the bombing of Hiroshima", wrote Hendrik Hertzberg
Hendrik Hertzberg
Hendrik Hertzberg is an American journalist, best known as the principal political commentator for The New Yorker magazine. He has also been a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter and editor of The New Republic, and is the author of ¡Obámanos! The Rise of a New Political Era and Politics:...

, "yet Hersey's reporting was so meticulous, his sentences and paragraphs were so clear, calm and restrained, that the horror of the story he had to tell came through all the more chillingly."

The author said he adopted the lean style to suit the story he strove to tell. "The flat style was deliberate", Hersey said 40 years later, "and I still think I was right to adopt it. A high literary manner, or a show of passion, would have brought me into the story as a mediator. I wanted to avoid such mediation, so the reader's experience would be as direct as possible."

Time magazine later called Hersey's account of the bombing "the most celebrated piece of journalism to come out of World War II." Founder of The New Yorker Harold Ross
Harold Ross
Harold Wallace Ross was an American journalist and founder of The New Yorker magazine, which he edited from the magazine's inception in 1925 to his death....

 told his friend, author Irwin Shaw
Irwin Shaw
Irwin Shaw was a prolific American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author whose written works have sold more than 14 million copies. He is best-known for his novel, The Young Lions about the fate of three soldiers during World War II that was made into a film starring Marlon...

: "I don't think I've ever got as much satisfaction out of anything else in my life." But
The New Yorkers publication of Hersey's article caused a rift in Hersey's relationship with Henry Luce
Henry Luce
Henry Robinson Luce was an influential American publisher. He launched and closely supervised a stable of magazines that transformed journalism and the reading habits of upscale Americans...

, the co-founder of Time-Life
Time–Life is a creator and direct marketer of books, music, video/DVD, and multimedia products. Its products are sold throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia through television, print, retail, the Internet, telemarketing, and direct sales....

 and Hersey's first mentor, who felt Hersey should have reported the event for one of Luce's magazines instead.

Later books and college master's job

Soon afterward the war correspondent turned mostly to fiction. After publication of Hiroshima, Hersey noted that "the important 'flashes' and 'bulletins' are already forgotten by the time yesterday morning's paper is used to line the trash can. The things we remember are emotions and impressions and illusions and images and characters: the elements of fiction." Shortly before writing Hiroshima, Hersey published his novel Of Men and War, an account of war stories seen through the eyes of soldiers rather than a war correspondent. One of the stories in Hersey's novel was inspired by President John F. Kennedy and the PT-109
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Theater during World War II...


In 1950 Hersey's novel The Wall was published, an account presented as a rediscovered journal recording the genesis and destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

, the largest of the Jewish ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s established by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. The book won the National Jewish Book Award in the second year of that award's existence; it also received the Sidney Hillman
Sidney Hillman
Sidney Hillman was an American labor leader. Head of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, he was a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations and in marshaling labor's support for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Party.-Early years:Sidney Hillman was...

 Foundation Journalism Award.

His article about the dullness of grammar school readers in a 1954 issue of Life magazine, "Why Do Students Bog Down on First R? A Local Committee Sheds Light on a National Problem: Reading" was the inspiration for The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat is a children's book by Dr. Seuss and perhaps the most famous, featuring a tall, anthropomorphic, mischievous cat, wearing a tall, red and white-striped hat and a red bow tie. He also carries a pale blue umbrella...

. Further criticisms of the school system came with "The Child Buyer
The Child Buyer
The Child Buyer is John Hersey's 1960 novel about a project to engineer super-intelligent persons for a project whose aim is never definitely stated...

", a speculative-fiction novel. Hersey also wrote The Algiers Motel Incident
The Algiers Motel Incident
The Algiers Motel Incident is a 1968 true crime book by John Hersey. The book describes an incident which occurred in 1967 in Detroit, Michigan, at about the same time as the racially charged 12th Street Riot...

, about a racially-motivated shooting by police during the 12th Street Riot
12th Street riot
The 1967 Detroit riot, also known as the 12th Street riot, was a civil disturbance in Detroit, Michigan, that began in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, 1967. The precipitating event was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a blind pig, on the corner of 12th and...

 in Detroit, Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, in 1968. Hersey's first novel A Bell for Adano
A Bell for Adano (novel)
A Bell for Adano is a 1944 novel by John Hersey, the winner of the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel. It tells the story of an Italian-American officer in Sicily during World War II who wins the respect and admiration of the people of the town of Adano by helping them find a replacement for the...

, which won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1945, was adapted into the 1945 film A Bell for Adano
A Bell for Adano
A Bell for Adano is a film directed by Henry King starring John Hodiak and Gene Tierney. The film was adapted from the novel A Bell for Adano by John Hersey, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945. In his 1945 review of the film, Bosley Crowther wrote, "... this easily vulnerable picture, which came...

directed by Henry King
Henry King (director)
Henry King was an American film director.Before coming to film, King worked as an actor in various repertoire theatres, and first started to take small film roles in 1912. He directed for the first time in 1915, and grew to become one of the most commercially successful Hollywood directors of the...

 starring John Hodiak
John Hodiak
John Hodiak was an American actor who worked in radio and film.-Early life:He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Walter Hodiak and Anna Pogorzelec . He was of Ukrainian and Polish descent...

 and Gene Tierney
Gene Tierney
Gene Eliza Tierney was an American film and stage actress. Acclaimed as one of the great beauties of her day, she is best remembered for her performance in the title role of Laura and her Academy Award-nominated performance for Best Actress in Leave Her to Heaven .Other notable roles include...

. His 1956 short novel, A Single Pebble is the tale of a young American engineer going up the Yangtze
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 on a river junk in the 1920s and discovering that his romantic concepts of China bring disaster.

From 1965–70, Hersey was Master of Pierson College
Pierson College
Pierson College is a residential college founded in 1933 at Yale University. The College takes its name from Abraham Pierson , one of the founders of the Collegiate School, which later became Yale University. A statue of Abraham Pierson stands on Yale's Old Campus...

, one of twelve residential college
Residential college
A residential college is an organisational pattern for a division of a university that places academic activity in a community setting of students and faculty, usually at a residence and with shared meals, the college having a degree of autonomy and a federated relationship with the overall...

s at Yale University, where his outspoken activism and early opposition to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 made him controversial with alumni, but admired by students. Following the trial of the Black Panthers
New Haven Black Panther trials
In 1970 there were a series of criminal prosecutions in New Haven, Connecticut against various members of the Black Panther Party. The charges ranged from criminal conspiracy to felony murder. All indictments stemmed from the murder of nineteen-year-old Alex Rackley in the early hours of May 21,...

 in New Haven
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...

, Hersey wrote Letter to the Alumni (1970), in which the former Yale College
Yale College
Yale College was the official name of Yale University from 1718 to 1887. The name now refers to the undergraduate part of the university. Each undergraduate student is assigned to one of 12 residential colleges.-Residential colleges:...

 master sympathetically addressed the civil rights and anti-war movements – and attempted to explain them to sometimes-aggravated alumni.

The courtly Hersey also pursued an unusual sideline: he operated the college's small letterpress printing
Letterpress printing
Letterpress printing is relief printing of text and image using a press with a "type-high bed" printing press and movable type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image...

 operation, which he sometimes used to turn out broadsides – in 1969 printing an elaborate broadside of an Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 quote for Yale history professor and fellow residential college master Elting E. Morison.
For 18 years Hersey also taught two writing courses, in fiction and non-fiction, to undergraduates. As Master of Pierson College, he subsequently hosted his old boss Henry Luce
Henry Luce
Henry Robinson Luce was an influential American publisher. He launched and closely supervised a stable of magazines that transformed journalism and the reading habits of upscale Americans...

 – with whom Hersey had reconnected after their falling-out years prior – when Luce spoke to the college's undergraduates. Following Luce's somnolent speech, the former publisher privately revealed to Hersey for the first time that he and his wife Clare Boothe Luce
Clare Boothe Luce
Clare Boothe Luce was an American playwright, editor, journalist, ambassador, socialite and U.S. Congresswoman, representing the state of Connecticut.-Early life:...

 had experimented with LSD under supervision of a physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...


In 1969 Hersey made another sacrifice for his alma mater: he donated the services of his bulldog 'Oliver' as mascot for the Yale football team. Making his debut in the fall of 1969, Handsome Dan XI
Handsome Dan
Handsome Dan is a bulldog who serves as the mascot of Yale University's athletic teams. In addition to a person wearing a costume, the position is filled by an actual bulldog, the honor being transferred to another upon death or retirement...

 (the Yale bulldog's traditional moniker) had Hersey concerned about the dog's interest level. A big football fan himself, Hersey had wondered aloud "whether Oliver would stay awake for two hours." With a new mascot at the helm, the sometimes hapless Yale team finished the season with a 7–2 record.

In 1985 John Hersey returned to Hiroshima, where he reported and wrote Hiroshima: The Aftermath, a follow-up to his original story. The New Yorker published Hersey's update in its July 15, 1985, issue, and the article was subsequently appended to a newly-revised edition of the book. "What has kept the world safe from the bomb since 1945 has not been deterrence, in the sense of fear of specific weapons, so much as it's been memory", wrote Hersey. "The memory of what happened at Hiroshima."

Death in Key West

A longtime resident of Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts – chronicled in his 1987 work Blues – John Hersey died at his winter home in Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida
Key West is a city in Monroe County, Florida, United States. The city encompasses the island of Key West, the part of Stock Island north of U.S. 1 , Sigsbee Park , Fleming Key , and Sunset Key...

, on March 24, 1993 at the compound he and his wife shared with his friend, writer Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison
Ralph Waldo Ellison was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer. He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953...

. Hersey's death was front-page news in the following day's New York Times. The writer was buried near his home on Martha's Vineyard. He was survived by his second wife, Barbara (the former wife of Hersey's colleague at The New Yorker, artist Charles Addams
Charles Addams
Charles "Chas" Samuel Addams was an American cartoonist known for his particularly black humor and macabre characters...

, and the model for Morticia Addams
Morticia Addams
Morticia A. Addams is the fictional matriarch of "The Addams Family", created by cartoonist Charles Addams and based on his first wife Barbara .Morticia is the wife of Gomez Addams and mother of Wednesday Addams and Pugsley Addams...

), Hersey's five children, one of whom is composer, musician Baird Hersey, and six grandchildren. Barbara Hersey died on Martha's Vineyard 14 years later on August 16, 2007.


On October 5, 2007, the United States Postal Service announced that it would honor five journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

s of the 20th century with first-class rate postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

s, to be issued on Tuesday, April 22, 2008: Martha Gellhorn
Martha Gellhorn
Martha Gellhorn was an American novelist, travel writer and journalist, considered by The London Daily Telegraph amongst others to be one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career...

, John Hersey, George Polk
George Polk
George Polk was an American journalist for CBS who disappeared in Greece and was found dead a few days later on Sunday May 16, 1948, shot at point-blank range in the back of the head, and with hands and feet tied. Polk was covering the civil war in Greece between the right wing government and...

, Rubén Salazar
Ruben Salazar
Rubén Salazar was a Mexican-American journalist killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy during the National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War on August 29, 1970 in East Los Angeles, California. During the 1970s, his killing was often cited as a symbol of unjust treatment of...

, and Eric Sevareid
Eric Sevareid
Arnold Eric Sevareid was a CBS news journalist from 1939 to 1977. He was one of a group of elite war correspondents—dubbed "Murrow's Boys"—because they were hired by pioneering CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow....

. Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

 Jack Potter announced the stamp series at the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 managing editors meeting in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

In 1968, John Hersey High School
John Hersey High School
John Hersey High School, , is a four-year public high school located in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago, Illinois in the United States, it has its students from Arlington Heights and also takes some students from Prospect Heights, Mount Prospect and a small part of Des...

 in Arlington Heights, Illinois
Arlington Heights, Illinois
Arlington Heights is a village in Cook and Lake counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. A suburb of Chicago, it lies about 25 miles northwest of the city's downtown. The population was 75,101 at the 2010 census....

 was named in his honor.

Shortly before Hersey's death, then Acting President of Yale Howard Lamar
Howard R. Lamar
Howard Roberts Lamar is a historian of the American West, and a former president of Yale University.-Biography:He was born in 1923 in Tuskegee, Alabama, U.S., and was drawn into history in part by his rich family history which includes two United States Supreme Court justices and the second...

 decided the university should honor its longserving alumnus. The result was the annual John Hersey Lecture, the first of which was delivered March 22, 1993, by historian and Yale graduate David McCullough
David McCullough
David Gaub McCullough is an American author, narrator, historian, and lecturer. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award....

, who noted Hersey's contributions to Yale but reserved his strongest praise for the former magazine writer's prose. Hersey had "portrayed our time", McCullough observed, "with a breadth and artistry matched by very few. He has given us the century in a great shelf of brilliant work, and we are all his beneficiaries."

The John Hersey Prize at Yale was endowed in 1985 by students of the author and former Pierson College master. The prize is awarded to "a senior or junior for a body of journalistic work reflecting the spirit and ideals of John Hersey: engagement with moral and social issues, responsible reportage and consciousness of craftsmanship." Winners of the John Hersey Prize include David M. Halbfinger (Yale Class of 1990) and Motoko Rich (Class of 1991), who both went on to reporting careers at The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, and journalist Jacob Weisberg
Jacob Weisberg
Jacob Weisberg is an American political journalist, serving as editor-in-chief of Slate Group, a division of The Washington Post Company. Weisberg is also a Newsweek columnist. He served as the editor of Slate magazine for six years, until stepping down in June 2008...

 (Class of 1985), current editor-in-chief of The Slate Group
The Slate Group
The Slate Group is an online publishing entity established in June 2008 by The Washington Post Company. Among the publications overseen by The Slate Group are Slate, Slate V, The Root, The Big Money, and

. Among Hersey's earlier students at Yale was Michiko Kakutani
Michiko Kakutani
is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times and is considered by many to be a leading literary critic in the United States.-Life and career:...

, currently the chief book critic of The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, as well as film critic Gene Siskel
Gene Siskel
Eugene Kal "Gene" Siskel was an American film critic and journalist for the Chicago Tribune. Along with colleague Roger Ebert, he hosted the popular review show Siskel & Ebert At the Movies from 1975 until his death....


During his lifetime, Hersey served in many posts connected with writing, journalism and education. He was the first non-academic named master of a Yale residential college. He was past president of the Authors League of America, and he was elected chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 by the membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hersey was an honorary fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University. He was awarded honorary degrees by Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, the New School for Social Research, Syracuse University
Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university located in Syracuse, New York, United States. Its roots can be traced back to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1832, which also later founded Genesee College...

, Washington and Jefferson College, Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...

, The College of William and Mary and others.


  • Men on Bataan, 1942
  • Into the Valley, 1943
  • A Bell for Adano, 1944
  • Hiroshima, 1946
  • The Wall, 1950
  • The Marmot Drive, 1953
  • A Single Pebble, 1956
  • The War Lover, 1959
  • The Child Buyer, 1960
  • White Lotus, 1965
  • Too Far To Walk, 1966
  • Under the Eye of the Storm, 1967
  • The Algiers Motel Incident, 1968
  • Letter to the Alumni, 1970
  • The Conspiracy, 1972
  • My Petition for More Space, 1974
  • The Walnut Door, 1977
  • Aspects of the Presidency, 1980
  • The Call, 1985
  • Blues, 1987
  • Life Sketches, 1989
  • Fling and Other Stories, 1990
  • Antonietta, 1991
  • Key West Tales, 1994

External links

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