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Van Der Zee, John 1936-

van der ZEE, John 1936-

PERSONAL: Born January 30, 1936, in San Francisco, CA; son of Herman A. (a judge) and Mary (McGushin) van der Zee; married Diane Hunt, November 28, 1959; children: Peter John, Katy. Education: Stanford University, A.B., 1957.

ADDRESSES: Home—2988 Pacific Ave., San Francisco, CA 94115.

CAREER: Copywriter with Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, San Francisco, CA, 1958–61, Benton & Bowles, Inc., New York, NY, 1961–62, Fletcher Richards, Calkins & Holden, San Francisco, 1962–63, and Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, 1964–66; McCann-Erickson, Inc., San Francisco, copywriter, 1966–69, associate creative director, beginning 1969, became senior vice-president, senior writer since 1985; Ogilvie & Mather, San Francisco, senior writer, 1984–85. Friends of the San Francisco Library, director. Military service: California National Guard, 1957–61.

MEMBER: Authors League of America, Authors Guild, Phi Gamma Delta.

AWARDS, HONORS: James D. Phelan Award for Literature, 1964, for manuscript of unpublished novel "The Hand-Picked Man."

WRITINGS:

The Plum Explosion (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1967.

Blood Brotherhood (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1970.

(With Hugh Wilkerson) Life in the Peace Zone: An American Company Town, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1971.

Canyon: The Story of the Last Rustic Community in Metropolitan America, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1972.

The Greatest Men's Party on Earth: Inside the Bohemian Grove, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1974.

Stateline (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1976.

(Editor, with Boyd Jacobson) Imagined City: San Francisco in the Minds of Its Writers, California Living (San Francisco, CA), 1980.

While Someone Else Is Eating: American Poets and Novelists on Reaganism, Anchor Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Bound Over: Indentured Servitude and American Conscience, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1985.

The Gate: The True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1987.

Agony in the Garden: Sex, Lies, and Redemption from the Troubled Heart of the American Catholic Church, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Also author of unpublished novel "The Hand-Picked Man." Contributor to Ramparts, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Harper's, California Living, and Town and Country.

SIDELIGHTS: In Canyon: The Story of the Last Rustic Community in Metropolitan America John van der Zee offers an account of one community's struggle to maintain its natural relationship with the environment. Once hidden away in the woods fifteen miles from San Francisco, this town has guarded its rustic nature through the efforts of its original settlers and its newer residents, followers of the back-to-nature movement. "Writing with an eye for unobtrusive but telling detail … and a sense of fairness," noted Annie Gottlieb in the New York Times Book Review, John van der Zee has fashioned "a compact, lucid and loving account of Canyon's history and hassles." Gottlieb concluded: "The readers of this book will determine whether Canyon is an omen that the changes in our minds can really take root [or whether it is a symbol of] what might have been."

"In 1972, by working as a waiter," van der Zee once told CA, "I penetrated northern California's exclusive Bohemian Grove, and wrote the first on-the-spot account of the nation's largest annual gathering of men of wealth and power." As he explains in the book The Greatest Men's Party on Earth: Inside the Bohemian Grove: "Originally a club for men with talent but no money, the Bohemian Club [has evolved into] the reverse." For two weeks each summer, over a thousand of the richest and most influential men in the United States, including presidents, oilmen, industrialists, and financiers, gather at this retreat near San Francisco. Peter Barnes commented in the New Republic that "Van der Zee, though no theoretician, is a perceptive and fluent writer." Donald Goddard, contributing to the New York Times Book Review, wrote: "His assessments of character and motive … are generally shrewd and often sharp." Goddard added, "Refraining from any larger judgments on the wider significance of this male chauvinist jamboree, van der Zee amuses at first and then, as the implications sink in, disturbs."

In his book Bound Over: Indentured Servitude and American Conscience Van der Zee looks at the history of indentured servitude in the United States, which differed from slavery in that the servitude or ownership was limited to a certain number of years and occurred often as immigrants used it to obtain ship passage to the United States. C. Vann Woodward, writing in the New Republic, commented that the author's contribution to the topic "lies … in his way of perceiving and presenting the experience of indentured bondage, servitude as experienced by its victims and their posterity, the emotional rather than the quantitative dimension." Atlantic contributor Phoebe-Lou Adams wrote, "Mr. van der Zee has collected people—criminals, kidnap victims, the poor or the desperate—who came or were shipped to provide cheap labor … and has converted their stories into lively vignettes."

The author looks at sexual molestation scandals within the Catholic Church in his more recent title, Agony in the Garden: Sex, Lies, and Redemption from the Troubled Heart of the American Catholic Church. Specifically, van der Zee focuses on the diocese of Santa Rosa, California, in the late 1990s and details the history of widespread abuse and other problems, such as embezzlement. Margaret Flanagan, writing in Booklist, noted that "this tale of clerical arrogance and abuse will still make your hair stand on end." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "The lurid, labyrinthine story line gives the book a level of suspense beyond that of many contemporary thrillers."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Van der Zee, John, The Greatest Men's Party on Earth: Inside the Bohemian Grove, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1974.

PERIODICALS

Atlantic Online, September, 1985, Phoebe-Lou Adams, review of Bound Over: Indentured Servitude and American Conscience, p. 116

Booklist, February 15, 2003, Margaret Flanagan, review of Agony in the Garden: Sex, Lies, and Redemption from the Troubled Heart of the American Catholic Church, p. 1021

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of Agony in the Garden, pp. 1835-1836.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 1, 1985, Elaine Kendall, review of Bound Over, p. 1.

New Republic, April 27, 1974, Peter Barnes, review of The Greatest Men's Party on Earth, p. 24; March 4, 1978, review of The Gate: The True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, p. 8; September 9, 1985, C. Vann Woodward, review of Bound Over, p. 24.

New Yorker, July 22, 1974, review of The Greatest Men's Party on Earth, p. 83.

New York Times, July 30, 1985, Herbert Mitgang, review of Bound Over, pp. N27, C15.

New York Times Book Review, February 27, 1972, Annie Gottlieb, review of Canyon: The Story of the Last Rustic Community in Metropolitan America, p. 32; March 5, 1974, Donald Goddard, review of The Greatest Men's Party on Earth, p. 52; March 8, 1987, Joseph Giovannini, review of The Gate, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, February 10, 2003, review of Agony in the Garden, p. 182.

ONLINE

Northbay.com, http://www.northbay.com/ (July 29, 2003), Jonah Raskin, review of Agony in the Garden.

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