George Jonas

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This article is about the Canadian author. For the founder of Camp Rising Sun, see George E. Jonas.
George Jonas
Born (1935-06-15) June 15, 1935 (age 80)
Budapest, Hungary
Occupation Writer and columnist
Nationality Canadian
Ethnicity Jewish
Notable works By Persons Unknown (1977), Vengeance (1984)
Notable awards 1978 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime book
Member Order of Canada
Spouse Sylvia Nemes (1962-1968 divorced)
Barbara Amiel (1974–1979 divorced)
Maya Cho (1986 - present)[1]
Children Alexander Jonas (with Sylvia Nemes) b. 1964
Relatives Son of Dr. Georg M. Hübsch and Magda Hübsch (née Klug)

George Jonas, CM (born June 15, 1935) is a Hungarian-born Canadian writer, poet, and journalist. A self-described classical liberal, he has authored 16 books, including the international bestseller Vengeance (1984), the story of an Israeli operation to kill the terrorists responsible for the 1972 Munich massacre. The book has been adapted for film twice, first as Sword of Gideon (1986), and more recently as Munich (2005).

Personal life[edit]

Jonas was born in Budapest in 1935, the son of Dr. Georg M. Hübsch (1883-1972) and Magda Hübsch (née Klug)(1905-1997),[1] Jonas was educated at the Lutheran Gymnasium during the years 1945 and 1954.[1]

Marriage and family[edit]

Jonas married his first wife, Sylvia (née Nemes) in 1962; their son, Alexander, was born in 1964. He married Barbara Amiel in 1974; they divorced in 1979.[1] A practicing Jew, Amiel insisted they marry in a synagogue; Jonas has written that it was the first time he'd been inside one.[2]

Jonas is married to Maya (née Cho), who was born in Korea.[3]


Jonas and Amiel co-wrote By Persons Unknown: The Strange Death of Christine Demeter (1976), an account of the 1973 murder of Christine Demeter and the subsequent murder trial and conviction of the her husband, Peter. Their work won the 1978 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime book.[4]

He has also contributed to: the National Review, Saturday Review, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy Magazine, the Hungarian Review (Budapest) and The National Interest.[5]


Following his schooling, Jonas worked for Radio Budapest as a program director.[1] He emigrated to Canada in 1956 following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Jonas worked as a freelance print and broadcast journalist until he was hired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1962. There he worked as a staff editor and producer for the next 34 years producing last show for CBC-TV in 1996.[1] He worked as a columnist for the Toronto Sun from 1981 to 2001, when he moved to the National Post, where he remains a regular contributor. He has written 16 books, one play, and two operas.[1]

Jonas is on the advisory board of the Munk Debates held semi-annually in Toronto, Canada.[6]


His 1984 book Vengeance was a bestseller, printed in 21 editions in 13 languages.[7] It portrayed the events of the Israeli Operation Wrath of God, undertaken in retaliation for the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The book was later adapted twice as films: first, as a made-for-TV-film Sword of Gideon (1986). It was later developed as a feature film Munich (2005), directed by Steven Spielberg and with a screenplay written by Tony Kushner, an American playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize.[8]

In a lengthy article in Maclean's magazine in January 2006, Jonas wrote about the development of the book, for which he was commissioned by publishers who had heard Aviv's story, and the years-long process of it being developed as a feature film. He felt that the film Munich suggests that there is little difference between terrorism and counter-terrorism, and thus Spielberg's movie had a spirit opposite to that of his book. In the article, Jonas notes that the world and opinions about allowable actions and grievances has changed in the nearly 20 years between when his book was published and the film was being developed.[7] (He was not able to read the screenplay or see the film before commercial release, so did not influence what was done.)[7]

He noted some critics' assertions that Juval Aviv, Jonas' source for the book and a New York security consultant, had fabricated his story. He had told the publishers and Jonas that he was head of a Mossad hit team.[7] Given the nature of intelligence and secret operations, Jonas acknowledged there was no sure way to determine whether his source was telling the truth, as governments do not like to confirm such material. But he had done considerable research, and said that he could confirm details at some of the places where his source had claimed to be operating.[7]


  • The Absolute Smile, 1967. (Poems)
  • The Happy Hungry Man, 1970. (Poems)
  • Cities, 1973. (Poems)
  • By Persons Unknown: The Strange Death of Christine Demeter co-written with Barbara Amiel, 1977.
  • Final Decree, 1981. (Novel)
  • The Scales of Justice: Seven Famous Criminal Cases Recreated, 1983.
  • Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, 1984.
  • Foreword for "In the Name of the Working Class" written by Sándor Kopácsi,Grove Press, 1986.
  • The Scales of Justice: Volume II, 1986.
  • Greenspan: The Case for the Defense, 1987. (Biography)
  • Crocodiles in the Bathtub and Other Perils, 1987. (Articles 1977–87)
  • A Passion Observed: A True Story of a Motorcycle Racer, 1989. (Biography)
  • Politically Incorrect: Notes on Liberty, Censorship, Social Engineering, Feminism, Apologists and other Topics of our Times, 1991.
  • The East Wind Blows West, 1993. (Poems)
  • Beethoven's Mask: Notes On My Life and Times, Key Porter Books, 2005. (Autobiography)
  • Reflections on Islam: Ideas, Opinions, Arguments, Key Porter Books, 2007.
  • The Jonas Variations: A Literary Séance, Cormorant Books, 2011. (Poetry Translations)

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2013, Jonas was made a Member of the Order of Canada "for his thought-provoking contributions to Canadian public discourse as an author and journalist".[9]

He received The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal "in recognition of his contributions to Canada" in 2012,[1]

Other awards include: Edgar Allan Poe Award for the Best Crime Non-Fiction Book (New York, 1978), two Nelly Awards for the Best Radio Program (Toronto, 1983 and 1986), three National Magazine Awards (Toronto, 1991; 2006 and 2007), and two Gemini Awards for the Best TV Movie and for the Best Short Dramatic Program (Toronto, 1993).[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "George Jonas Biography". George Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Beethoven's Mask: Notes on my Life and Times (2005) p. 233.
  3. ^ "Toronto to Chechnya". The National Post. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  4. ^ "George Jonas". Historica. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "George Jonas". The National Post. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "Munk Debates-About". The Munk Debates. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e George Jonas. "The Spielberg Massacre", Maclean's, January 7, 2006
  8. ^ George Jonas. Description of Vengeance on Jonas's website.
  9. ^ "Governor General Announces 90 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". December 30, 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. 

External links[edit]