Jonathan Coleman's newest book (which the writer Gay Talese has already praised, well before publication, as "exceptional" and "powerful") is a collaboration with the legendary Jerry West, the silhouetted figure of the NBA logo: WEST BY WEST: My Charmed, Tormented Life, to be published by Little, Brown in October 2011. (In addition, he narrates documentaries--for which he has won two awards--and audio books, and does voiceovers for commercials.)
His previous book, LONG WAY TO GO: Black and White in America, has been called "a classic" (Morris Dees, Southern Poverty Law Center), "history and journalism at its best" (Andrew Hacker, author of Two Nations) and received front-page reviews in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book World, and the Chicago Tribune. In addition, Mr. Coleman traveled to 20 cities in the fall of 1997, taking part in symposiums that centered around the book and the subject of race, and he served as an adviser to President Clinton's Initiative on Race as well as an adviser on racial unity to Bill Bradley's presidential campaign. (All of Mr. Coleman's research related to Long Way to Go can be found at the Golda Meir Library of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.)
Mr. Coleman was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1973.
The following year, he worked in London for The New Review, a literary magazine. From 1975 to 1981, he worked in book publishing, first at Alfred A. Knopf and later as a senior editor and member of the editorial board of Simon and Schuster. Among the books he edited were Peter Taylor's In the Miro District, Robert Lindsey's The Falcon and the Snowman, Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel, Don Imus's God's Other Son, David S. Broder's Changing of the Guard, Elizabeth Drew's Senator, William S. Cohen's Roll Call, Jonathan Raban's Old Glory and Arabia, Shiva Naipaul's North of South and Journey to Nowhere, Fred Kaplan's The Wizards of Armageddon, Richard Norton Smith's Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, and Donald Johanson's Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. In 1980, in a piece about publishing, he was profiled in Time magazine as one of the best editors in the field.
From 1981 to 1983, he worked at CBS News as a producer and a correspondent, and where he initially began to investigate the story that led to his first book, At Mother's Request. Published in 1985, it was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and made the New York Times bestseller list in both hardcover and paperback. Favorably compared by the critics to such books as Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, it was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. (All of Coleman's research related to At Mother's Request is with the Marriott Library at the University of Utah.) In 1987, a miniseries based on his book aired on CBS, and he made a cameo appearance.
In the fall of 1989, his second work of nonfiction, Exit the Rainmaker, was a featured selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and was praised by Time ("Striking"), The New York Times Book Review ("Fascinating") and The Los Angeles Times Book Review ("A fascinating symbolic statement of the American psyche"). In addition, he wrote a profile of Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial, for Time. In 1990, when Exit the Rainmaker was published in paperback, it became a New York Times bestseller.
In 1991, Coleman wrote a piece on Little League that was subsequently cited for Special Mention in Best American Sports Writing 1992. Over the years his articles have covered a variety of subjects: the world's largest Polaroid camera; the water towers of Manhattan; the mysterious drowning of three black teenagers in Texas on Juneteenth; the way in which technology has made us "intimate strangers"; a small parking problem that John Grisham made a big deal over; profiles of Don Imus, Jeff Sonnenfeld (which answers, among other things, the question of whether he vandalized the brand-new business building at Emory in retaliation for not being offered the deanship), and the U.S. Women's National soccer team.
Mr. Coleman is a member of PEN and is included in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Education, and Contemporary Authors. He has written for the New York Times (both the Magazine and Book Review), Newsweek, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post (both Style and Book World), the Chicago Tribune, the Texas Observer, among other publications. He taught creative nonfiction writing at the University of Virginia from 1986 to 1993, and has lectured at a number of other universities as well as at Chautauqua, the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, the Milwaukee Public Library, the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, Writers at Work, the Miami Book Fair, the Nebraska Summer Writers' Conference, the Virginia Festival of the Book, and Semester at Sea. Over the course of his career, he has been interviewed on most of the major television and radio shows, including Today, Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Vanished, 48 Hours, All Things Considered, Inside Edition, Court TV's Power, Privilege and Justice, and has been profiled in nearly every major newspaper.
Mr. Coleman lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is currently finishing a book about Angus Cameron, the renowned book editor (and "true Renaissance man") who was blacklisted in the 1950s, a book that draws on their relationship of more than twenty-five years: What He Stood For: The Many Worlds of Angus Cameron.