Bierman, John 1929–2006

views updated

Bierman, John 1929–2006

(John David Bierman)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born January 26, 1929, in London, England; died January 4, 2006. Journalist and author. Bierman achieved a remarkable career as an international correspondent for the BBC during conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Ireland. A child of divorced parents, he spent his early life being shuttled around by various relatives and attending almost a dozen different schools. Not old enough to fight during World War II, he did his military service shortly afterwards with the Royal Marine Commandos. After National Service, Bierman worked for a newspaper in Stoke-on-Trent and then moved to Canada to search for better journalism opportunities. With some experience under his belt, he returned to England and worked for such newspapers as the Mirror and Daily Express as a subeditor. This job would help him exercise his gift as a quick writer and expert reviser. In 1960, he was offered a new opportunity to be the editor of the Nation in Kenya. A few years later, he edited dailies in Trinidad before going back, once more, to England in 1967 to join the British Broadcasting Corporation. Here he worked as a television correspondent, covering such hot-spots as Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, and in 1971 he reported on the war between India and Pakistan. Back in the United Kingdom in 1972, Bierman and his crew were covering what they thought would be an unspectacular demonstration in Londonderry when violence broke out between demonstrators and British soldiers. Now known as Bloody Sunday, the deadly incident was recorded on film only by Bierman and his colleagues because other crews lost their cameras to water cannons. Next, the journalist went to Iran, but was thrown out by the Shah after filming an unflattering documentary of the government there. In 1974, he found himself assigned to the conflict in Cyprus. Becoming enamored by the island, even in wartime, he would return to live there in 1991 after his retirement. Over the years, Bierman gained extensive knowledge of other peoples and countries that he would later draw upon for his acclaimed books. Among his publications are Righteous Gentile: The Story of Raoul Wallenberg, Missing Hero of the Holocaust (1981), Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley (1990), the co-written Fire in the Night: Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia, and Zion (1999), and The Secret Life of Laszlo Almasy: The Real English Patient (2005). At the time of his death, he was writing a novel.



Times (London, England), January 13, 2006, p. 72.