Nick McDonell

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Nick McDonell
Born Robert Nicholas McDonell
(1984-02-18) February 18, 1984 (age 31)
New York City
Occupation Author
Language English
Notable works Twelve, The Third Brother

Robert Nicholas "Nick" McDonell (born February 18, 1984) is an American writer.

Personal life[edit]

McDonell was born in New York City. His mother, Joanie, is a writer, and his father, Terry McDonell, is managing editor of Sports Illustrated.[1] His brother is actor Thomas McDonell. His father was once managing editor of Rolling Stone, where Hunter S. Thompson was a contributing editor and a friend; Thompson gave a blurb to McDonell when Twelve was published, as did writers Richard Price and Joan Didion, both personal friends of the family. Morgan Entrekin, president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic, which published the book, is also a friend of the family. McDonell attended the Buckley School, the Riverdale Country School, and graduated from Harvard College in January 2007. In June 2012, he received a graduate degree in International Relations from Oxford University.



McDonell wrote the novel Twelve in 2002, at age 17. The subject of the novel is disaffection, despair, drug use and violence among a group of wealthy Manhattan teenagers during Winter break. The publication of the novel at such a young age was the subject of many articles in high-profile publications such The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly.

Twelve has been translated into over twenty languages, was on all major American best-seller lists, UK bestseller lists and was number one on German bestseller lists. A motion picture adaptation of the same name was released in 2010. The film was directed by Joel Schumacher and starred Kiefer Sutherland and Chace Crawford.

The Third Brother[edit]

Also published in the UK and translated into many languages, Nick McDonell's second novel, The Third Brother (ISBN 0-8021-1802-X), was released in September 2005. The New York Times called it "a haunting tale of brotherly love."

Divided into three parts the first describes the 19-year-old protagonist Mike on a revelatory assignment in Bangkok. Mike is working for an old friend of his father. (McDonell himself interned for Karl Taro Greenfeld of Time Asia. Greenfeld later worked for McDonell's father at Sports Illustrated.) The second part of the novel takes place on September 11, 2001, as Mike searches for his brother; in the final part Mike returns to college after tragedy strikes his family.

An Expensive Education[edit]

With the publication in August 2009 of his third novel, An Expensive Education, reviewers compared McDonell to both Graham Greene and John le Carré. recommended the novel and all three of McDonell's books were praised in a profile which appeared in The New York Times on August 2, 2009. The review in The Washington Post on August 12, 2009 said: "Now 25, McDonell has reached an age at which it is not so freakish to write a good book which is fortunate because he has done it again." The review goes on to say, "As he's shown in his previous novels he can be a ruthless chronicler of America's aristocratic culture." And: "One of the fascinations of this novel is how effectively it tracks distant events that resonate with one another around the world."[2]

The End of Major Combat Operations[edit]

Published in April 2010, Mc Donell's fourth book reports about the war in Iraq.


Referring to his second book, Jennifer Egan in The New York Times Book Review wrote, "In The Third Brother, McDonell delivers another remarkable novel." The first pre-publication review of McDonell's third novel An Expensive Education, appeared in Publishers Weekly where it was compared to "le Carré's better works." McDonell has also proven himself with his book La Guerre a Harvard published in France in 2009, and articles from Darfur for Harper's Magazine 2009, and for Time from Iraq.


  1. ^ Johnson, Curt (1988). Who's who in U.S. writers, editors & poets, Volume 1. December Press. ISBN 0-913204-21-8. 
  2. ^ Charles, Ron (August 12, 2009). "Book Review: Ron Charles on 'An Expensive Education' by Nick McDonell". The Washington Post. 

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