Stanley Karnow

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Stanley A. Karnow
Stanley Karnow (2009).jpg
Born(1925-02-04)February 4, 1925
DiedJanuary 27, 2013(2013-01-27) (aged 87)
EducationHarvard College, A.B. 1947 (European history and literature)

Sorbonne, University of Paris, 1947–48

Ecole des Sciences Politiques, 1948–49.
Occupationjournalist, historian
Known for
Spouse(s)Claude Sarraute (m.July 15, 1948, div. 1955)
Annete Kline (m. April 12, 1959, died 2009)
ChildrenCatherine Anne Karnow
Michael Franklin Karnow
(stepson) Curtis Edward Karnow
Parent(s)Harry and Henriette Koeppel Karnow
AwardsPulitzer Prize in history (1990)
Shorenstein Prize (2002)
Overseas Press Club awards (1966,1968)
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branchUnited States Army Air Forces
Years of service1943–1946
Battles/warsChina Burma India Theater

Stanley Abram Karnow (February 4, 1925 – January 27, 2013) was an American journalist and historian. He is best known for his writings on the Vietnam War.

Education and career[edit]

After serving with the United States Army Air Forces in the China Burma India Theater during World War II, he graduated from Harvard with a bachelor's degree in 1947; in 1947 and 1948 he attended the Sorbonne, and from 1948 to 1949 the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris. He then began his career in journalism as Time correspondent in Paris in 1950. After covering Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (where he was North Africa bureau chief in 1958-59), he went to Asia, where he spent the most influential part of his career.[4] He was friends with Anthony Lewis[2] and Bernard Kalb.[3]

He covered Asia from 1959 until 1974 for Time, Life, the Saturday Evening Post, the London Observer, the Washington Post, and NBC News. Present in Vietnam in July 1959 when the first Americans were killed,[5] he reported on the Vietnam War in its entirety. This landed him a place on the master list of Nixon political opponents. It was during this time that he began to write Vietnam: A History (1983).

He was chief correspondent for the 13-hour Vietnam: A Television History series, which premiered on PBS in 1983 and later re-aired on PBS's American Experience;[6] it won six Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, a George Polk Award and a DuPont-Columbia Award. In 1990, Karnow won the Pulitzer Prize for History for his book In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. In 1992, he co-authored a book with the journalist Nancy Yoshihara, one of the founders of the Asian American Journalists Association, called Asian Americans in Transition.[7] His other books include Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution, which was nominated for a National Book Award; and Paris in the Fifties (1997), a memoir history of his own experiences of living in Paris in the 1950s. He also worked for The New Republic and King Features Syndicate.[3]

Later in life, he tried to write a book on Asians in the United States. A book on Jewish humor progressed only to an outline. He also contemplated a memoir to be titled Interesting times or Out of Asia.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Stanley Karnow was born in a Jewish family[9] in Brooklyn on Feb. 4, 1925, the son of Harry and Henriette Koeppel Karnow (Karnofsky). He married the famous French journalist Claude Sarraute. They divorced in 1955.[3]

In 1959, he married Annette Kline, an artist who was working at the time as cultural attaché for the U.S. State Department in Algiers. Annette died of cancer in July 2009. They had a son and a daughter.[8]

Karnow belonged to the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Society of Historians.

Karnow died on January 27, 2013, at his home in Potomac, Maryland, at age 87 of congestive heart failure.[2]


  • Karnow, Stanley (1997). Vietnam: A History. 2nd rev. and updated (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1997). ISBN 0140265473. LCCN 97197160.
  • Karnow, Stanley (1997). Paris in the Fifties (New York, NY: Times Books, 1997). Ill. by Annette Karnow. ISBN 0812927818. LCCN 97018521.
  • Asian Americans in Transition (New York, NY: Asia Society, 1992).
  • Karnow, Stanley (1989). In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines (New York, NY: Random House, 1989). ISBN 0394549759. LCCN 88042676.
  • Karnow, Stanley (1984). Mao and China: Inside China's Cultural Revolution (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1984). ISBN 0140072217. LCCN 84009392.
  • Karnow, Stanley (1983). Vietnam: A History (New York, NY: Viking Press, 1983). ISBN 0670746045. LCCN 83047905.
  • Karnow, Stanley (1972). Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution (New York, NY: Viking Press, 1972). Introd. by John K. Fairbank. ISBN 0670454273. LCCN 77187967.
  • "The Vietnam Debacle: The revisionists who believe that the war was just—and winnable—are rewriting a history they don't understand". April 27, 2000. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  • (Preface) The First Time I Saw Paris: Photographs and Memories from the City of Light, Times Books, 1999.


  1. ^ "Stanley Karnow". Contemporary Authors Online (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Detroit: Gale. 2004. Gale Document Number: GALE H1000052288. Retrieved 2013-01-28. {{cite book}}: |format= requires |url= (help) Gale Biography In Context. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c "Stanley Karnow, journalist and Vietnam historian, dies". Washington Post. Associated Press. 28 January 2013. p. B4. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d McFadden, Robert D. (January 27, 2013). "Stanley Karnow, Historian and Journalist, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  4. ^ Fischer and Fischer, American History Awards 1917-1991, p. 345.
  5. ^ "First Blood in Vietnam", American Heritage, Winter 2010.
  6. ^ "American Experience | Vietnam Online | Film Credits | PBS". PBS. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  7. ^ Karnow, Stanley (1992). Asian Americans in transition. Nancy Yoshihara, Daniel K. Inouye. New York: Asia Society. ISBN 0-87848-506-6. OCLC 26648101.
  8. ^ a b Italie, Hillel (January 8, 2010). "Interesting times, indeed, for Stanley Karnow". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  9. ^ "Stanley Karnow , 1925–2013". 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2018-10-27.

External links[edit]