Born in Edison, GA; married Jeanine Addams (a business owner). Hobbies and other interests: Flower gardening, fly fishing.
Writer. Journalist for Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution; press secretary for Georgia governor Carl Sanders; writer for McGraw-Hill publications; journalism instructor at Emory University. Worked variously as a house-sitter and park ranger.
Pulitzer Prize nomination for Atlanta Constitution stories about drug smuggling and the development of Georgia's Cumberland Island.
Narcs, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.
Narcs II: Drug Warriors, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.
Narcs III: America's Heroes, New American Library (New York, NY), 1990.
Running Dead, Signet (New York, NY), 1993.
Caribbean Time Bomb: The United States' Complicity in the Corruption of Antigua, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.
(With Christina Noble) Nobody's Child: A Woman's Abusive Past and the Inspiring Dreams That Led Her to Rescue the Street Children of Saigon, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1994, published as Bridge across My Sorrows: The Christina Noble Story, J. Murray (London, England), 1994.
Kill the Angels, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.
Atlanta Heat, Signet (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Shaw E. Grigsby) Bass Master Shaw Grigsby: Notes on Fishing and Life, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 1998.
Dead South, Signet (New York, NY), 1999.
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including Esquire, New Yorker, Atlanta, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and aviation publications.
Robert Coram is a novelist and journalist who has covered issues such as the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the overdevelopment of natural lands, and drug trafficking in South America and the United States. His reporting has earned him two Pulitzer Prize nominations, and his work has appeared in magazines across the United States.
Coram became a reporter for the Atlanta Journal during his sophomore year in college. After serving an apprenticeship writing features, book reviews, aviation articles, and general assignment pieces, Coram started freelancing for Atlanta magazine and a number of national periodicals. When he tried to organize the Atlanta Journal's staff into a union, he was fired. Coram considered his firing "the most painful moment of his life, first because he had been fired from what he considered the best job in the world and, second, because the newspaper said the real reason he was fired was that he tricked a prominent politician into telling the truth about a controversial news issue," a biographer wrote on Coram's Web site.
After several years writing for McGraw-Hill publications, a year as press secretary to then-governor Carl Sanders, and four years on staff at Atlanta, Coram moved to Cumberland Island, off Georgia's coast. There he worked as a house sitter and ranger for the National Park Service, and freelanced for Sports Illustrated and the Sunday New York Times. He returned to Atlanta in the mid-1970s and continued freelancing.
A series of articles on narcotics trafficking in Esquire led to a job offer at the Atlanta Constitution. There, Coram was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on drug smuggling. A pilot himself, Coram flew among British islands such as the Turks and Caicos and became acquainted with another pilot who provided the main transportation for a group of smugglers. Coram's stories inspired the British government to clean up the drug trade on the islands, which led to a large bounty being placed on Coram's head "just to bring him back to the islands," wrote Adam Feuerstein in Atlanta Business Chronicle. Eventually, Coram abandoned reporting on the drug trade "after being shot at by drug smugglers in Bimini in 1980," Feuerstein wrote.
Coram also received a Pulitzer nomination for a series of Atlanta Constitution articles on development of his former home, Cumberland Island. After three years on staff at the paper, he was fired "because his interviewing techniques were too aggressive," wrote the biographer on Coram's Web site. "Coram now had the unique distinction of having been fired from both the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution. The two papers later merged and then the Journal was rendered extinct, so his feat can never be duplicated."
For twelve years Coram worked as a journalism instructor at Emory University. He continued freelancing for national magazines, and in 1998, his first novel, Narcs, was published. Based on the in-depth knowledge he had gained during his reporting years, Narcs and its two sequels are thrillers about drug smuggling. Four other novels—Running Dead, Kill the Angels, Atlanta Heat, and Dead South—are police procedurals set in Atlanta.
Coram also writes nonfiction books along with his novels. Caribbean Time Bomb: The United States' Complicity in the Corruption of Antigua is a "candid account, scrupulously researched" that "focuses on the excesses of Antiguan Prime Minister Vere Cornwall Bird and his sons, who run the island nation like feudal lords," engaging in a variety of unscrupulous and possibly illegal activity, wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic. The Bird family endured scandals and accusations of arms dealing, favor-selling, and financial misdeeds. Coram examines the involvement of the United States in the Birds' activities. The book relates "plenty of crimes to leave the readers thoroughly disgusted with the Birds and with U.S. involvement with them" and their supporters, wrote Anita L. Cole in Library Journal.
Nobody's Child: A Woman's Abusive Past and the Inspiring Dream That Led Her to Rescue the Street Children of Saigon, is the autobiography of Christina Noble, written with assistance from Coram. Following a childhood of abuse, poverty, family problems, and homelessness in Dublin, Ireland, Noble finds herself incarcerated in a Galway girls' school. Gang-raped at age sixteen, she is forced to give up her son. A subsequent marriage is abusive and leads to divorce. After spending some time in mental hospitals, she remarries. Despite these traumas, in 1989 Noble went to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), to work with orphans and street children, helping them avoid facing same type of future as her. "This is a deeply moving story that should appeal to a wide readership," wrote Arla Lindgren in Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that, "Along with freelancer Coram, Noble has written a painfully frank and at times riveting autobiography."
With his 2002 biography, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, Coram rekindled his longtime interest in aviation and aviation history. John Boyd, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, was known as "Forty-second Boyd." His standing bet with any pilot, at any level of skill, from any branch of the military, was that he could out-maneuver them in simulated air-to-air combat and have them in his gunsights, ready for the "kill," in forty seconds or less. Boyd never lost a single bet.
Boyd joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and honed his skills in Korea. He developed a functional theory of aerial attack and put into writing a series of effective maneuvers and counter maneuvers for combat pilots. He created the "Energy-Maneuverability" theory, which "enabled fighter pilots to evaluate their energy potential at any altitude and at any maneuver. And, perhaps more importantly, the energy potential of their adversary," Coram wrote on the Aviation History Web site. "It changed forever the way aircraft are fought in combat."
Some of Boyd's most hard-fought battles were waged against friendly forces on the ground. Boyd was a keen analyst who detested obstruction, obfuscation, and pettiness and fought with superiors, subordinates, and civilians over inefficiency, waste, and unthinking adherence to tradition. Washington Post reviewer Jason Vest wrote, "As Coram's book shows, Boyd gave no quarter in his various battles to prove just how right he was about the stifling, self-serving features of military bureaucracy." But to his equally loyal supporters, according to Coram, Boyd was a savior. "America has dominated the skies for the past thirty years because of John Boyd," the author remarked on the Aviation History Online Museum.
Boyd is a "worthy biography" and "deeply researched and detailed," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "Coram does not shy away from Boyd's often self-defeating abrasiveness and the neglect and treatment of his long-suffering wife and children, and keeps the story of a unique life moving smoothly and engagingly." "Overall, Coram has done a great service by introducing Boyd to the American public," noted Joseph Neff in Raleigh News & Observer. A writer for Kirkus Reviews called the book "required reading for frustrated innovators, aviation buffs, and Horatio Algers intent on improving the world against the best efforts of ever-prevailing deal-busters and naysayers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Business Chronicle, January 22, 1990, Adam Feuerstein, profile of Coram, p. A16. Booklist, October 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, p. 367.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1993, review of Caribbean Time Bomb: The United States' Complicity in the Corruption of Antigua, p. 693; October 15, 2002, review of Boyd, p. 1513.
Library Journal, July, 1993, Anita L. Cole, review of Caribbean Time Bomb, p. 100; February 1, 1995, review of Nobody's Child: A Woman's Abusive Past and the Inspiring Dreams That Led Her to Rescue the Street Children of Saigon, p. 91.
Los Angeles Daily Journal, August 15, 1989, Bill Carbine, review of Narcs II: Drug Warriors, p. 7.
Publishers Weekly, October 28, 1988, review of Narcs, p. 73; June 28, 1993, review of Caribbean Time Bomb, pp. 65-66; December 19, 1994, review of Nobody's Child, p. 43; June 10, 1996, review of Kill the Angels, p. 96; October 20, 1997, review of Atlanda Heat, p. 73; October 14, 2002, review of Boyd, p. 78.
Raleigh News & Observer, January 19, 2003, Joseph Neff, review of Boyd.
Washington Post Book World, January 12, 2003, Jason Vest, review of Boyd, p. 7.
Aviation History Online Museum,http://www.aviationhistory.com (January 21, 2003).
Bookbrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com (January 21, 2003), Harriet Klausner, review of Atlanta Heat.
Defense and the National Interest Web site,http://www.d-n-i.net/ (May 25, 2003).
Robert Coram Home Page,http://www.robertcoram.com (January 21, 2003).*