Kaiser, Robert Blair 1930-
KAISER, Robert Blair 1930-
PERSONAL: Born Robert Blair Piser, December 3, 1930, in Detroit, MI; son of Robert (an engineer) and Olive Blair (Hungate) Piser; married Susan Ann Mulcahey, November 28, 1959 (divorced); married Karen McCaffery, June 6, 1966; children: (first marriage) Margaret Anne, John Gustave; (second marriage) William. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Attended Santa Clara University, 1948-52; Gonzaga University, B.A., 1952, M.A., 1955. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Troutfishing.
ADDRESSES: Home—PMB 829, 5501 North Seventh Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85103. Office—9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Agent—Amy Rennert, 98 Main Street, Ste. 302, Tiburon, CA 94920. E-mail— [email protected]
CAREER: Journalist and author. Time-Life News Service, New York, NY, foreign correspondent, 1961-64, Los Angeles correspondent, 1964-1966; New York Times, New York, NY, reporter, 1979-81; University of Nevada, Department of Journalism, professor and chairman, 1981-84; Tribune, San Diego, CA, columnist, 1984-87; Pasadena Star News, columnist, 1995; Newsweek, Rome, Italy, contributing editor, 1999—. Project director, Center for Public Service and the Common Good, University of San Francisco, 2003.
AWARDS, HONORS: Overseas Press Club Award for best magazine reporting of foreign affairs, 1962; Maxie Award, 1997, for Jubilee 2002: A Musical Celebration.
Pope, Council, and World: The Story of Vatican II, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1963, published as Inside the Council: The Story of Vatican II, Burns & Oates (London, England), 1963.
"R.F.K. Must Die!": A History of the Robert Kennedy Assassination and Its Aftermath, Dutton (New York, NY), 1970.
(Coauthor) Melvin Belli, My Life on Trial: An Autobiography, Morrow (New York, NY), 1976.
(Coauthor) Pat Haden, My Rookie Season with the Los Angeles Rams, Morrow (New York, NY), 1977.
The Politics of Sex and Religion: A Case History in the Development of Doctrine, 1962-1984, Leaven Press (Kansas City, MO), 1985.
The Search for Sonny Skies, Birch Lane Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Jamie Farr) Just Farr Fun, Eubanks & Donizetti (Clearwater, FL), 1994.
Jubilee 2000: A Musical Celebration (play), produced in Phoenix, AZ, 1997.
Clerical Error: A True Story, Continuum (New York, NY), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Making of a Pope, for Knopf.
SIDELIGHTS: Although Robert Blair Kaiser has written on a wide range of subjects and coauthored several biographies, the best insights of this Jesuit-trained journalist have resulted in such books as Pope, Council, and World: The Story of Vatican II and The Politics of Sex and Doctrine: A Case History in the Development of Doctrine, 1962-1984, both of which focus on the changing policy of the Catholic church as it responds to the increasingly liberal attitudes and policies of contemporary society and politics.
While Kaiser was in Rome covering the Second Vatican Council as a reporter for Time, his marriage fell apart after his wife began an affair with a Jesuit priest. This is the subject of Kaiser's memoir Clerical Error: A True Story. Arthur Jones, reviewing the book in the National Catholic Reporter, called it "a real page-turner" and informed readers that Kaiser "provides discrete chunks of cameo, first-class Catholic history" within his story. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly observed, "Although this memoir is based on a true story, it reads in many places like a novel, and a few elements strain credulity."
On a lighter note, Kaiser penned Jubilee 2000: A Musical Celebration, which Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter described as a "zany walk through Christian history." It has been performed on several occasions in Phoenix, Arizona.
The result of Kaiser's research into the 1970 work "R.F. K. Must Die!": A History of the Robert Kennedy Assassination and Its Aftermath was the author's conclusion that convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan either trained himself to act as a killing machine with the sole target the vice presidential candidate, or that Sirhan was programmed by others to commit the murder. Kaiser was able to gain intimate access to his subject through sheer determination and an offer to pay a portion of Sirhan's defense from the proceeds of his writings. His final analysis of the Robert Kennedy assassination contains so detailed a portrait of Sirhan, in fact, that Sirhan's family tried, unsuccessfully, to halt publication of the book through a court order. Kaiser was even allowed to sit in on sessions during which Sirhan was hypnotized by the chief defense psychiatrist. After months of investigation and close contact with the journalist, Kaiser said, "Sirhan began to discover he didn't like me very much. The feeling was mutual."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Best Sellers, November 1, 1970.
Ladies' Home Journal, May, 1970.
National Catholic Reporter, January 9, 1998, Tom Roberts, review of Jubilee 2000: A Musical Celebration, p. 3; March 8, 2002, Arthur Jones, review of Clerical Error: A True Story, p. 18.
National Review, February 23, 1971.
Newsweek, October 19, 1970.
Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2002, review of Clerical Error, p. 60.
Time, January 4, 1971.
Washington Post, October 15, 1970.