Nadler, John 1961–

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Nadler, John 1961–


Born August 10, 1961, in Fernie, British Columbia, Canada; son of John G. (a farmer and construction worker) and Norma (a secretary) Nadler; married Erika Papp (a lawyer); children: John Gusztav. Ethnicity: "Hungarian/Finn." Education: University of British Columbia, B.A., 1984; Carleton University, B.J., 1985, M.J., 1990. Politics: Canadian Liberal Party. Religion: "Baptized Catholic, confirmed Lutheran." Hobbies and other interests: Biking, skiing.


Home—Budapest, Hungary. Agent—Albert Zuckerman, Writers House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and journalist. Creston Fire Department, firefighter, 1979-84; British Columbia Ministry of Education, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, editorial consultant, 1986-90; Budapest Week, Budapest, Hungary, writer, 1992-96; CanWest Newspapers, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Balkan correspondent, 1997—. Variety magazine, Budapest correspondent, 1994—; Time magazine Europe, correspondent.


British Columbia Newspapers Award, best historical writing, British Columbia Newspaper Association, 1981, for an article titled "The Great Creston Bank Robbery."


Searching for Sofia: A Tale of Obsession, Murder, and War (literary nonfiction), Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

A Perfect Hell: The True Story of the Black Devils, the Forefathers of the Special Forces (literary nonfiction), Presidio Press (Novato, CA), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Maclean's, Canadian Business, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, National Post, Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), Time Europe, Sunday Times, Independent (London, England), and European. Author of blog.


John Nadler is a Canadian writer and journalist currently living in Budapest, Hungary. He has long been a correspondent for CanWest, the largest chain of newspapers in Canada. His journalistic assignments have taken him to Kosovo and Macedonia, where he covered conflicts from 1998 to 2000, and to Serbia, where he reported on the uprising in 2000. In an interview posted on his own Web log, the author remarked that "my two biggest career steps were, firstly, to re-locate in Europe in 1992; and, secondly, to push for assignments to cover the Kosovo war. I didn't have to push hard." The Kosovo story "was there in my backyard, it was major, and all I had to do was show up for it. It's fortunate I did," Nadler continued, because his experiences there brought him into contact with the story that became his first book, Searching for Sofia: A Tale of Obsession, Murder, and War. In this work of literary nonfiction, Nadler presents the "engaging and true story of trying to find the lost love of his friend Gjorg, a young Kosovar who dared to fall in love with a Serbian woman," noted Quill and Quire reviewer Noreen Rasbach. Nadler describes how he undertook the search for Sofia and the network of thieves, police officers, government officials, translators, and others who have endured and survived the brutality of the Kosovo conflict. Rasbach called Nadler's combination of politi- cal history and touching personal stories a "remarkably brave and endearing approach" to recounting life in ethnically divisive and battle-ravaged Kosovo.

A Perfect Hell: The True Story of the Black Devils, the Forefathers of the Special Forces contains Nadler's history of the First Special Service Force, or FSSF, an elite military unit that saw service during the middle years of World War II and that formed the basis of today's prestigious and ferocious special forces units. The FSSF was composed of both Canadian and American troops, with a total strength of some 2,000 soldiers. Through first-person interviews with former FSSF soldiers and material drawn from oral history archives and other primary source archives, Nadler reconstructs the unit's history, its wartime activities and impressive combat achievements, and its legacy. He also tells the stories of several individual soldiers from the unit. He explains how the FSSF received its nickname from the Germans, who respected the unit's proven battle prowess and who noticed how its troops blackened their faces with shoe polish for nighttime operations. A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked, "This solidly researched and smartly written volume is a fitting tribute to a unique group of warriors." Booklist critic Roland Green called it a "readable, informative, and entertaining history."

Nadler once told CA: "From an early age I was interested in presenting nonfiction in a compelling literary style. My early influences were journalists who pioneered this genre: Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Peter Maas; also Pierre Berton and Farley Mowat. Literary influences include Somerset Maugham, Vladimir Nabokov, I.B. Singer, Arthur Koestler, Henry Miller, Martin Amis. In my nonfiction writing such as Searching for Sofia, I've attempted to tell the story of large events (in this case, the Kosovo conflict) through the eyes of ordinary characters (the Serb army medic Boris Postovnik, the Albanian refugee Gjorgj Isufi). In A Perfect Hell the Italian campaign in World War II is experienced through the eyes of best friends Joe Glass and Lorin Waling.

"In my war reporting I was fascinated by the unusual relationships that underscore the thesis that nothing on a battlefield happens in isolation. Searching for Sofia highlights the personal connection between a Serb army medic and an Albanian refugee who had never met; A Perfect Hell explores the relationships and symbiosis between soldiers in combat and the families they left behind at home."



Booklist, March 1, 2006, Roland Green, review of A Perfect Hell: The True Story of the Black Devils, the Forefathers of the Special Forces, p. 59.

Esprit De Corps, January, 2006, Bill Beswetherick, review of A Perfect Hell, p. 44.

Library Journal, March 15, 2006, David Alperstein, review of A Perfect Hell, p. 82.

Publishers Weekly, January 16, 2006, review of A Perfect Hell, p. 52.

Quill and Quire, August, 2003, Noreen Rasbach, review of Searching for Sofia: A Tale of Obsession, Murder, and War.


John Nadler Home Page, (June 10, 2008).

John Nadler Web log, (June 10, 2008).