St. John, Robert 1902-2003

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ST. JOHN, Robert 1902-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born March 9, 1902, in Chicago, IL; died February 6, 2003, in Waldorf, MD. Journalist and author. St. John was a highly respected journalist who covered major stories around the globe, from the gangster activities of Al Capone to the Arab-Israeli wars. A high school classmate of Ernest Hemingway who was told by his teacher that he would never succeed as a writer, St. John enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was sixteen—he lied about his age—and saw action during World War I. When the war was over he attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, but was expelled after attempting to expose the college president's censorship of a member of the faculty. St. John then decided to pursue a journalism career, working for such newspapers as the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago American during the 1920s, the height of the mobster era in Chicago. From 1923 to 1926 he was co-owner, with his brother, and publisher of several newspapers in Illinois, and then went on to work as a managing and then city editor for papers in Vermont and work at newspapers in New Jersey and Philadelphia. St. John abandoned journalism from 1933 to 1939 in order to farm and work on a novel which never saw publication. On the urging of a friend, in 1939 he traveled to Eastern Europe to write about the beginnings of World War II. There he was hired by the Associate Press as a correspondent in the Balkans, but he had to flee when the Germans invaded Yugoslavia. His harrowing flight from Europe became the subject of his first book, From the Land of Silent People (1942). In England he began his career as a broadcaster with the National Broadcasting Company, later working in Washington, D.C., and New York City. When his name was put on Senator Joseph McCarthy's list of suspected communists because of his association with sources in Eastern Europe, St. John was fired from NBC and became a freelance journalist. He continued to report on major events around the globe through the 1980s and published almost two dozen books, including biographies, three autobiographies, and other nonfiction based on his reporting. Among these works are This Was My World (1953), David Ben Gurion: The Biography of an Extraordinary Man (1958), The Man Who Played God (1963), Jews, Justice, and Judaism (1969), Eban (1972), Builder of Israel (1988), and the children's biography Ben-Gurion (1986).



Roth, Michael, Historical Dictionary of War Journalism, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1997.

Writers Directory, 17th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2002.


Chicago Tribune, February 8, 2003, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2003, p. B16.

New York Times, February 8, 2003, p. B15.

Washington Post, February 8, 2003, p. B7.

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St. John, Robert 1902-2003

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St. John, Robert 1902-2003