Marks, John 1963-

views updated

Marks, John 1963-


Born 1963; married; children: one son.


Home—MA. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, journalist, and television producer. Plano Star Courier, Plano, TX, journalist, 1987-90; Iowa City Press Citizen, education and business reporter, 1990; U.S. News & World Report, Berlin, Germany bureau chief and reporter, 1991-95; culture, politics, and social issues reporter, 1995-2000; "60 Minutes," CBS television, producer, 2000—. Coproducer of documentary film Purple State of Mind.


New York Times Notable Book, 1998, for The Wall; citation among best books of the year, Publishers Weekly, 2003, for War Torn; Gracie Award, American Women in Radio and Television.



The Wall, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 1998.

War Torn, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Fangland, Penguin Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Reasons to Believe: One Man's Journey among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other periodicals. Author of blog on the Purple State of Mind Web site. Author of blog, New Bites: The Latest on Fangland.


The Wall was adapted to audiocassette, Chivers Audiobooks, 1999.


As former bureau chief for U.S. News & World Report in Berlin, John Marks has a unique perspective on Cold War and post-Cold War politics and social change. His first novel, The Wall, captures the confusion that resulted from the fall of the Berlin Wall. War Torn, his second book, follows the story of two lovers caught up in the vicissitudes that occurred with the reunification of East and West Germany and the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

In The Wall an American spy, Stuart Glemnik, defects to East Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The irony of that situation leads to a number of plot twists. Glemnik's best friend tries to rescue him, his German girlfriend defects with him but then returns to the West, and his Texan brother comes to Berlin after losing his job and his wife. In a Library Journal review, Ray Vignovich lamented the demise of the classic spy novel, commenting that The Wall "lacks the tension that makes the espionage genre successful" and calling the language used by the novel's narrator, Alan Sklar, "pedestrian." In USA Today, William F. Nicholson remarked that the novel is "mostly reheated blah, blah about the Cold War" but that reading it "is kind of fun." A critic for Publishers Weekly had a much more positive reaction, writing that "Marks handles his involved story line with assurance" and that he has "a distinctive vision of history."

The fall of the Wall was a prelude to even more upheavals in Eastern Europe, chronicled in fictional style in War Torn. In this tale, Texan journalist Arthur Cape is in Berlin in the mid-1990s when he falls in love with Marta Mehmedovic, a Bosnian who later leaves him to follow her husband and son home to Mostar, a town under siege from warring factions. Arthur decides to look for Marta, plunging himself into dangerous territory where Muslims, Serbs, Croats, Jews, and other ethnic groups are vying for power.

Critics were generally more receptive to Marks's second novel than to his first. David Wright, for example, wrote in Booklist that "comparisons to Graham Greene are not entirely specious" when considering War Torn. In Entertainment Weekly, Michael Endelman remarked that Marks's "ear for detail and his deft, nonlinear narrative make it a worthy meditation on the intersection of heart and history." And in the New York Times Book Review, Dan Kaufman pointed to the novel's poignant descrip- tion of the destruction of the famous bridge at Mostar, which bridged East and West, as an example of Marks's well-crafted prose. Kaufman remarked that in War Torn, "Marks artfully balances moral outrage with a quietly elegiac tone." A Publishers Weekly critic concluded that War Torn is a "complex, beautifully savage novel," calling Marks "a latter-day Herman Wouk or Irwin Shaw" who "writes with unabashed romanticism and passionate intensity."

In Fangland, Marks presents an "electrifying modern tale of horror that pays homage to Bram Stoker's Dracula," observed Patricia Altner in Library Journal. Protagonist Evangeline Harker is a newly engaged young producer at a prominent television news magazine called The Hour. When she is assigned to travel to Transylvania to interview Eastern European crime boss Ion Torgu, she finds him to be physically repulsive but strangely charming. Evangeline discovers that Torgu has more sinister motives than an interview, as he imprisons her in a remote hotel and she gradually learns his blood-drenched secret. Soon, Evangeline herself experiences the curse of vampirism. Back in New York, chaos and destruction envelops the offices of The Hour as Torgu makes a final apocalyptic appearance there. Booklist reviewer Whitney Scott called Fangland "a scary twenty-first-century take on the stuff of Dracula, worthy of its rightful place among others." "Marks manages to make the familiar fresh, so that even devotees of the original" will find much that is appealing about his modern interpretation, remarked a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.



Booklist, November 1, 2003, David Wright, review of War Torn, p. 482; January 1, 2007, Whitney Scott, review of Fangland, p. 70.

Entertainment Weekly, November 28, 2003, Michael Endelman, review of War Torn, p. 129.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2006, review of Fangland, p. 1149.

Library Journal, March 15, 2000, Ray Vignovich, review of The Wall, p. 148; November 1, 2003, Barbara Hoffert, review of War Torn, p. 125; December 1, 2006, Patricia Altner, review of Fangland, p. 108.

New York Times Book Review, December 14, 2003, Dan Kaufman, "Books in Brief," p. 28; March 4, 2007, Joe Queenan, "Interview the Vampire," review of Fangland, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly, July 20, 1998, review of The Wall, p. 207; October 27, 2003, review of War Torn, p. 45; November 6, 2006, review of Fangland, p. 37.

USA Today, November 20, 1998, William F. Nicholson, "Wall Wobbles but Holds Up," review of The Wall, p. E13.


BookPage, (September 9, 2007), Tasha Alexander, review of Fangland.

Fangland Web site, (September 9, 2007).

Mostly Fiction, (November 30, 2003), Sudheer Apte, review of Fangland.

New Dork Times Web log, (March 14, 2007), review of Fangland.

Purple State of Mind, (October 17, 2007).