Anthony Summers

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Anthony Summers, Ireland, 2010.
Anthony Summers.

Anthony Bruce Summers (21 December 1942) is a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of eight best-selling non-fiction books.[1] He is an Irish citizen, and has been working for more than twenty years with Robbyn Swan, who is his co-author and fourth wife.[2] After studying modern languages at Oxford University, his early work took him from labouring jobs to freelance reporting to London newspapers, to Granada TV's World in Action[3] – the UK's first tabloid public affairs programme, to writing the news for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, then back to England to the BBC's 24 Hours, a pioneering late evening show that brought viewers coverage from all over the world. Summers became the BBC's youngest producer at 24, travelling worldwide and sending filmed reports from the conflicts in Vietnam and the Middle East, and across Latin America.[3][4][5] A main focus, though, was on the momentous events of the 60s and 70s in the United States – with on-the-spot reports on Martin Luther King's assassination and on Robert F. Kennedy's bid for the presidency. He smuggled cameras into the then Soviet Union to obtain the only TV interview with dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov – when he was under house arrest, having just won the Nobel Prize.[3] Before moving on from the BBC, Summers became an Assistant Editor of the prestigious weekly programme Panorama. Long based in Ireland, he has since the mid-70s concentrated on investigative non-fiction, usually taking from four to five years to produce a book – conducting in-depth research, combining digging in the documentary record with exhaustive interviewing.[6][7]

Latest book[edit]

Summers completed work on "Not in Your Lifetime" in 2013, a major revision of Not in Your Lifetime, his award winning book on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.[8][9]

The Eleventh Day: The Ultimate Account of 9/11 was an investigation of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, was published by Random House to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It is a comprehensive account of the event that traumatised America and the world, the product of five years' research and access for the first time to tens of thousands of previously withheld 9/11 Commission documents.[10]

Major writings[edit]

Summers has written about historical figures including Tsar Nicholas II, President John F. Kennedy, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President Richard Nixon. He also wrote biographies of celebrities Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra.

His main works include[edit]

  • The File on the Tsar (1976), "Meticulous research ... elegantly controversial" Harrison Salisbury, The New York Times
  • Conspiracy (on the John F. Kennedy assassination, 1980, revised and updated as Not in Your Lifetime, 2013), "Deserves to be read and taken seriously by all those who care about truth or justice." Professor Robert Blakey, former Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassination. The book won the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction in 1980.
  • Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe (1985), "A remarkable performance ... the ghost of Marilyn Monroe cries out on these pages" New York Times
  • Honeytrap (on the Profumo sex/spy scandal, 1987), one of several books used as background for the film Scandal (1989), starring John Hurt. Written in conjunction with British author Stephen Dorril.
  • Official and Confidential, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993), "An important book that should give us all pause, especially policy makers" Philadelphia Inquirer
  • The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon (2000) "Devastating ... no one interested in history, politics, government or the American presidency should ignore it." Chicago Tribune
  • Sinatra: The Life (2005), "The first fully documented biography ... a definitive, 'generational' work." Vanity Fair.

Television work[edit]

In addition to the coverage listed above, Anthony Summers sent reports on subjects as varied as:

  • The civil war between royalists and republicans in Yemen. He broke the story that the Egyptians were using gas bombs against civilians.[5]
  • Interviews with members of the Charles Manson family while they were still at large after the Tate-Labianca murders.[11]
  • Interviews with figures as contrasted as Chile's President Salvador Allende – soon to die in a bloody right-wing revolution – and Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.[12]
  • Summers made two visits to Cuba, where he suffered the fate of many before and after him – waiting for but not getting the promised interview with Fidel Castro.[13]
  • In Bolivia, defying a government ban on journalists, he travelled over rugged country to the site of Che Guevara's death.[13]
  • The Tupamaro guerilla movement in Uruguay.[13]
  • The tension in Argentina between the Catholic hierarchy and "worker priests".[13]
  • The US Drug Enforcement Administration's operations on the Mexican border.[13]
  • A reflection on the Americans who returned from the Vietnam War.[14]

Kennedy controversy[edit]

With his book on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Summers took a middle road – avoiding the wilder conspiracy theories while throwing doubt on the findings of the Warren Commission.[citation needed] He reported in detail, adding the results of his own interviewing, on the finding of Congress' Assassinations Committee that the "committee believes, on the basis of the available evidence, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy". As did the Committee, he allowed for the possibility that major organised crime figures combined with anti-Castro elements – perhaps with the connivance of some CIA personnel – were behind the plot.[15]

Awards[edit]

The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden was a Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History.[1][16] The book was also awarded the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger for Non-fiction in 2012.[16]

Not in Your Lifetime earned Summers the CWA Gold Dagger in 1980.[16]

Anthony Summers was made a Fellow of the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin in 2012.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners". Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Anthony Summers". Curtis Brown Literary Agency. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Lindley, Richard (2002). Panorama: 50 Years of Pride and Paranoia. London: Politicos. p. 129. ISBN 1-84275-046-1. 
  4. ^ Kyle, Keith (2009). Reporting the World. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 209. ISBN 1-84885-000-X. 
  5. ^ a b Smiley, David (1975). Arabian Assignment. London: Leo Cooper. p. 225. 
  6. ^ Summers, Anthony; Robbyn Swan (2000). The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon. New York: Viking. p. 611. ISBN 0-7567-5814-9. 
  7. ^ Summers, Anthony; Robbyn Swan (2005). Sinatra: The Life. New York: Knopf. p. 391. ISBN 0-375-71370-0. 
  8. ^ Summers, Anthony (2013). Not in Your Lifetime. New York: Open Road. ISBN 978-1-4804-3548-3. 
  9. ^ Summers, Anthony (2013). Not in Your Lifetime. London: Headline. ISBN 978-0-7553-6542-5. 
  10. ^ "Anthony Summers – The Eleventh Day". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved July 2011. 
  11. ^ Tuohy, Denis (2005). Wide-eyed in Media Land. Belfast: Blackstaff. p. 103. ISBN 0-85640-749-6. 
  12. ^ Tuohy, Denis (2005). Wide-eyed in Media Land. Belfast: Blackstaff. p. 133. ISBN 0-85640-749-6. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Tuohy, Denis (2005). Wide-eyed in Media Land. Belfast: Blackstaff. p. 141. ISBN 0-85640-749-6. 
  14. ^ Tuohy, Denis (2005). Wide-eyed in Media Land. Belfast: Blackstaff. p. 111. ISBN 0-85640-749-6. 
  15. ^ Summers, Anthony (1998). Not in Your Lifetime. New York: Marlowe. ISBN 1-56924-739-0. 
  16. ^ a b c "CWA Dagger for Non-fiction: 2012 winners Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan". The Crime Writers' Association. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  17. ^ UCD Literary & Historical Society (20 February 2012). "Anthony will be made a Fellow of UCD's Literary & Historical Society on Thursday, Feb. 23.". Facebook. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 

External links[edit]