Glusman, John A. 1956–

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Glusman, John A. 1956–

(John Alan Glusman)

PERSONAL: Born February 3, 1956, in New York, NY; son of Murray and Louise (Johns) Glusman; married; children: three. Education: Columbia College, B.A., 1978; Columbia University, M.A., 1980. Politics: Democrat.

ADDRESSES: Home—Glen Ridge, NJ. Office—Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 19 Union Sq. W., New York, NY 10003.

CAREER: Modern Library, New York, NY, managing editor, 1982–84; Vintage and Random House, New York, NY, associate editor, 1983–84; Washington Square Press, New York, NY, editor-in-chief, 1984–86; Collier Books, New York, NY, editor-in-chief, beginning 1986; Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, NY, senior executive editor, then editor, beginning 1986; Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, NY, currently editor-in-chief. Has also taught at New School for Social Research (now New School University) and Columbia University. Consulting editor for Columbia College Today and Zoetrope; Former member, Helsinki Watch Committee.


Conduct under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941–1945, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Economist, Washington Post Book World, Christian Science Monitor, and Rolling Stone. Former contributing editor, Paris Review.

SIDELIGHTS: John A. Glusman has worked in the publishing field since 1980, holding a number of editorial and management positions. Most recently, he has worked as editor-in-chief of New York-based publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux. In 2005 Glusman wrote his first book, Conduct under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941–1945. He had begun researching the book in 2001 when he traveled to the Philippines with his father, Murray Glusman, who had spent years in the country as a prisoner of war. The book's narrative revolves around Murray Glusman and three other Navy doctors—John Bookman, George Ferguson, and Fred Berley—who were captured during World War II on the fall of Corregidor and spent over three years as prisoners of the Japanese. The story follows the doctors through 1945 as they struggle to keep themselves and their fellow prisoners alive. The book's detailed account of life in a Japanese POW camp also addresses the larger struggle between the cultures of the East and West.

A number of critics found the author's use of a wide variety of research materials to be a major asset to Conduct under Fire. "Interviews with veterans … coupled with the use of diaries, letters, and war crimes testimony, make this essential for all libraries," attested David Lee Poremba in Library Journal. Other reviewers noted the book's in-depth analysis on the long-lasting effects of war on soldiers and families. The book is a "thoughtful, humane meditation on war and family history, full of myth-bursting truths," concluded a Kirkus Reviews contributor.

Glusman told CA: "My interest in writing dates back to my early days in publishing when I began first to review books, then to write essay-length articles, then to conduct interviews and write travel pieces and opinion pieces. As a book editor, I resisted writing a book for a very long time—knowing how much time and effort it would entail. But it seemed that if I didn't write Conduct under Fire, someone else—without the personal connection to the story—might, and that got my competitive juices flowing.

"Many writers have influenced me over the years. For Conduct under Fire, Ronald Spector's Eagle against the Sun: The American War with Japan, and John Dower's War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War were perhaps the two most important influences on me. They're scholarly in approach, brilliantly researched, and beautifully written, so a trade audience as well as an academic one can appreciate them.

"I spent a year or so researching Conduct under Fire, reading all of the published accounts—and many unpublished—of Allied prisoners of the Japanese. I traveled to the Philippines, I traveled to Japan, worked with a Japanese researcher and a translator, scoured collections in the National Archives, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, and I interviewed at length American, British, Australian, and Japanese veterans. Then, one day, I sat down at my computer—I remember the day well—paused, and began to write. I wrote almost every day for fifteen months, in the very early hours of the morning, late at night, on the weekends, on the train while commuting to work—whenever and wherever I had spare time.

"I was surprised by how much I enjoyed writing. I found it wonderfully stimulating, intellectually challenging, occasionally frustrating, but always rewarding.

"I think F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is the perfect American novel, and consider Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man the perfect British—rather, Irish—novel. In that context, Richard Ellmann's biography of Joyce is one of the best biographies I've ever read, and I find the work of military historian Douglas Porch, who has written on Morocco, the Sahara, and the Mediterranean theater in World War II, fascinating, wonderfully well written, and barbed with humor and insight."



Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of Conduct under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941–1945, p. 332.

Library Journal, May 1, 2005, David Lee Poremba, review of Conduct under Fire, p. 101.

Publishers Weekly, March 21, 2005, review of Conduct under Fire, p. 44; May 9, 2005, Michael Scharf, "Operating in War's Theater," interview with John A. Glusman, p. 28.


Conduct under Fire Web site, (August 16, 2005), biographical information on John Glusman.