Ward Just

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Ward Just
Ward just 8895.jpg
BornWard Swift Just
(1935-09-05)September 5, 1935
Michigan City, Indiana, U.S.
DiedDecember 19, 2019(2019-12-19) (aged 84)
Plymouth, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationLake Forest Academy,
Cranbrook Schools,
Trinity College (Connecticut)
Notable awardsAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters

Ward Swift Just (September 5, 1935 – December 19, 2019)[1] was an American writer. He was a war correspondent and the author of 17 novels and numerous short stories.


Just was born in Michigan City, Indiana, attended Lake Forest Academy, and subsequently graduated from Cranbrook School in 1953. He briefly attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He started his career as a print journalist for the Waukegan (Illinois) News-Sun. He married three times and had three children.

War Correspondent[edit]

After covering the war in Cyprus (1957) and the conflict in the Dominican Republic for Newsweek, Benjamin Bradlee hired Just at The Washington Post as a war correspondent for the Vietnam war. He published close to 400 articles, many appearing on the front page. He was wounded in June 1966, but returned to Saigon for a second tour after recovering in Washington, D.C. Leaving Saigon in May, 1967, he wrote To What End: Report from Vietnam, credited as being an important element to helping the nation understand the futility war. He went on to cover the presidential campaigns of both Eugene McCarthy and Richard Nixon for the Post in 1968 and was then asked to join its editorial board.[2]

Fiction Writing[edit]

Just's influences included Henry James and Ernest Hemingway.[3] His novel An Unfinished Season was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005. His novel Echo House was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997. He was twice a finalist for the O. Henry Award and won the prize in 1985 for his short story About Boston. He was Spring 1999 Rome Prize fellow.[4][5]

His fiction is often concerned with the influence of national politics on Americans' personal lives. Much of it is set in Washington D.C. and foreign countries. Another common theme is the alienation felt by Midwesterners in the East.

According to Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley, Just's finest novels are A Family Trust, An Unfinished Season, Exiles in the Garden, and American Romantic.[6][7] He also lists Just's short story collection, The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert, as one of his favorite books.[8] Yardley recently wrote that "American Romantic may well be the best of them all."

Literary Hub in 2018 wrote that "Ward Just is not merely America’s best political novelist. He is America’s greatest living novelist. To our discredit, he’s also America’s Greatest Unknown Novelist."[9]

In May 2013, The American Academy of Arts and Letters at its annual induction and award ceremony inducted Ward Just as a new member of the Academy and honored his lifetime achievement in the field of Literature, along with an exhibition of his manuscripts.[10]



  • A Soldier of the Revolution (1970)
  • Stringer (1974)
  • Nicholson at Large (1975)
  • A Family Trust (1978)
  • In the City of Fear (1982)
  • The American Blues (1984)
  • The American Ambassador (1987)
  • Jack Gance (1989)
  • The Translator (1991)
  • Ambition & Love (1994)
  • Echo House (1997)
  • A Dangerous Friend (1999)
  • The Weather in Berlin (2002)
  • An Unfinished Season (2004)
  • Forgetfulness (2006)
  • Exiles In The Garden (2009)
  • Rodin's Debutante (2011)
  • American Romantic (2014)
  • The Eastern Shore (2016)

Story collections[edit]

  • The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert (1973)
  • Honor, Power, Riches, Fame, and the Love of Women (1979)
  • Twenty-one: Selected Stories (1990)
  • Lowell Limpett and Two Stories (2001)


  • To What End (1968)
  • Military Men (1970)


  • Lowell Limpett (2001)

Anthologized in[edit]

  • Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism 1959-1969 (Part One) (1998)


  1. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/books/ward-just-dead.html
  2. ^ "Cranbrook Archives" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  3. ^ Shea, Jack. "Interview with Ward Just". Martha's Vinyard Arts and Ideas. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  4. ^ "Ward Just Author Profile". National Book Foundation. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Simon, Scott Simon (July 24, 2004). "Novelist Ward Just, Back in 'Season'". NPR. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  6. ^ Yardley, Johnathan (July 5, 2009). "Book Review: "Exiles in the Garden"". Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Yardley, Johnathan (April 4, 2014). "Op-Ed". Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Yardley, Jonathan (December 5, 2014). "Jonathan Yardley's Favorite Books". Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  9. ^ Zakin, Susan (17 October 2018). "Why America's Best Political Novelist Is Required Reading in 2018". Literary Hub. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  10. ^ "2013 Newly Elected Members". American Academy of Arts and Letters. Retrieved August 14, 2019.

External links[edit]