Jon Lee Anderson

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Jon Lee Anderson
John Lee Anderson 2010.JPG
Anderson in 2010
Born (1957-01-15) January 15, 1957 (age 58)
Occupation Biographer, author, international investigative journalist

Jon Lee Anderson (born January 15, 1957) is an American biographer, author, investigative reporter, war correspondent and staff writer for The New Yorker, reporting from war zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Uganda, Israel, El Salvador, Ireland, Lebanon, Iran, and throughout the Middle East. Anderson has also written for The New York Times, Harper's, Life, and The Nation. Anderson has profiled political leaders such as Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Augusto Pinochet.[1]

Personal life and early career[edit]

The son of Joy Anderson, a children's book author and University of Florida teacher, and of John Anderson, a diplomat and agricultural adviser for USAID and the Peace Corps, Anderson was raised and educated in South Korea, Colombia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Liberia, England, and the United States. His brother is Scott Anderson, a novelist and journalist, and they have co-authored two books.[2] He currently resides in Dorset, England, with his wife, Erica, and three children: Bella, Rosie and Máximo.[citation needed]

Anderson began working as a reporter in 1979 for the Lima Times in Peru. During the 1980s he covered Central America, first for the syndicated columnist Jack Anderson and later for Time magazine.[citation needed]

Anderson is also the author of a biography of the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara called Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, first published in 1997. While conducting research for the book in Bolivia, he discovered the hidden location of Guevara's burial from where his skeletal remains were exhumed in 1997 and returned to Cuba.[3]



  • Anderson, Scott; Anderson, Jon Lee (1986). Inside the League: The Shocking Expose of How Terrorists, Nazis, and Latin American Death Squads Have Infiltrated the World Anti-Communist League. New York: Dodd, Mead. ISBN 0-396-08517-2. 
  • Anderson, Jon Lee; Anderson, Scott (1988). War Zones (hardcover). New York: Dodd, Mead. ISBN 0-396-08915-1. 
  • Anderson, Jon Lee (1992). Guerrillas: Journeys in the Insurgent World (hardcover). New York: Times Books. ISBN 0-14-200497-9. 
  • — (1997). Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (hardcover). New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-1600-0. 
  • — (2002). The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-1723-6. 
  • — (2004). The Fall of Baghdad. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 1-59420-034-3. 

Essays and reporting[edit]

Since 1988, Anderson has written more than 100 essays, including the following:

  • Anderson, Jon Lee (January 26, 1998). "The Plague Years". Havana Journal. The New Yorker: 62. 
  • — (September 27, 1999). "The Power of Gabriel García Márquez". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 56. 
  • — (December 11, 2000). "Letter from Baghdad: The Unvanquished". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 76. 
  • — (October 22, 2001). "Letter from Afghanistan: The Warlord". The New Yorker (Conde Nast). 
  • — (June 10, 2002). "Letter from Kabul: The Assassins". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 72–81. 
  • — (April 21, 2003). "Letter from Baghdad: The Collapse". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 70. 
  • — (November 15, 2004). "Letter from Baghdad: Out on the street". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 72. 
  • — (September 19, 2005). "Letter from New Orleans: Leaving Desire". The New Yorker (Conde Nast). 
  • — (July 31, 2006). "Letter from Cuba: Castro’s Last Battle". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 44. 
  • — (February 9, 2007). "Being Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media Limited). 
  • — (July 9, 2007). "Letter from Afghanistan: The Taliban's Opium War". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 50. 
  • — (February 20, 2008). "Fidel's Slow Fade". LA Times (Tribune Company). 
  • — (October 27, 2008). "Letter from Zimbabwe: The Destroyer". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 10–27. 
  • — (November 29, 2009). "It's like the Middle Ages… there's no purpose other than living another day". The Observer (Guardian News and Media Limited). 
  • — (December 14, 2009). "Letter from Mogadishu: The Most Failed State". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 64. 
  • — (August 16, 2010). "Letter from Tehran: After the Crackdown". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 62. 
  • — (April 4, 2011). "The Talk of the Town: Comment: Who Are the Rebels?". The New Yorker 87 (7): 21–22. 
  • — (May 16, 2011). "Letter from Khost Province: Force and Futility". The New Yorker (Conde Nast): 96. 
  • — (September 1, 2011). "Pashean play". Guernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics. 
  • — (November 7, 2011). "King of Kings: the Last Days of Muammar Qaddafi". Letter from Libya. The New Yorker 87 (35): 44–57. Retrieved 2014-12-17. 
  • — (October 20, 2014). "The Mission : a last defense against genocide". A Reporter at Large. The New Yorker 90 (32): 60–73. Retrieved 2014-12-23. 


  • "Questions for: Jon Lee Anderson". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). May 4, 1997. 
  • Smith, Martin (December 7, 2003). "Beyond Baghdad: Interview with Jon Lee Anderson". Frontline (PBS). 
  • Jon Lee Anderson: The Fall of Baghdad. Meet the Author (video) (Meet the Author Ltd). 2004. 
  • Birnbaum, Robert (October 18, 2004). "Robert Birnbaum v. Jon Lee Anderson". The Morning News (The Morning News LLC). 
  • A talk with Jon Lee Anderson (mp3). Melbourne: La Trobe University. May 26, 2008. 
  • ""No veo a Colombia distinta a Afganistán": Jon Lee Anderson" [I do not see Colombia different from Afghanistan: Jon Lee Anderson]. Cambio (in Spanish) (Colombia: Gabriel García Márquez). November 2, 2008. 
  • Aksan, Cihan; Bailes, Jon (May 2010). "On Che Guevara: An Interview with Jon Lee Anderson". State of Nature (State of Nature). 
  • "TehelkaTV interview on Che's Legacy and covering insurrections". February 2011. 

Literary reception[edit]

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life has received widespread acclaim[4][5][6] as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year[citation needed] and many reprints. In her 1997 critique of the book, U.S. author Jane Franklin claims "Anderson never quite communicates an understanding of why Guevara remains such a powerful presence. Relying too much on secondary sources for his knowledge of Cuban history, he fails to grasp the nature of the revolution for which Guevara, Fidel Castro and so many others were willing to die."[7] Conversely, author Peter Canby states, "Anderson does a masterly job in evoking Che's complex character, in separating the man from the myth and in describing the critical role Che played in one of the darkest periods of the cold war. Ultimately, however, the strength of his book is in its wealth of detail."[4]

In the Washington Monthly, Matthew Harwood's review of The Fall of Baghdad was full of praise, "his crisp and lush prose reads more like a work of literature than like reportage. But for all its literary beauty, the book's real power lies in its narrative strategy".[8]


  1. ^ "Jon Lee Anderson and Andrew Bacevich in Conversation". Sydney Writers' Festival 2008 - Online Program. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Author Interview: Scott Anderson". NPR. 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Anderson, Jon Lee (May 3, 2011). "Burial Lesson: From Che to Bin Laden". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Canby, Peter (May 18, 1997). "Poster Boy for the Revolution". New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved June 4, 2011. 
  5. ^ "CHE GUEVARA: A Revolutionary Life". Kirkus Reviews. 
  6. ^ "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life". Goodreads. 
  7. ^ Franklin, Jane (May 19, 1997). "Che Guevara: Guerrillero Heroico". The Nation. Retrieved June 4, 2011. 
  8. ^ Harwood, Matthew (December 2004). "Ground up: John Lee Anderson avoided hanging out with U.S. troops - and wrote the best book on the Iraq war". Washington Monthly (Washington Monthly Company). Retrieved June 4, 2011. 

External links[edit]