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Raymond Bonner (born April 11, 1942) is an American author and investigative reporter who has been a staff writer at the New York Times, The New Yorker and has contributed to The New York Review of Books. His latest book, Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong, was published by Knopf in February 2012.

Raymond Bonner
Born (1942-04-11) April 11, 1942 (age 77)
Occupationjournalist, author
AgentGloria Loomis
Notable work
Weakness and Deceit

Waltzing with a Dictator
At the Hand of Man

Anatomy of Injustice
AwardsPulitzer Prize, 1999


Early lifeEdit

Bonner graduated from MacMurray College in Illinois, in 1964, where he majored in Political Science. He lettered in soccer, track and cross country.[1] He earned a J.D. degree from Stanford University Law School in 1967. In 1968 he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain in 1971. Before taking up journalism, Bonner worked as a staff attorney with Ralph Nader's Public Citizen Litigation Group, as the director of the West Coast office of Consumers Union, and as director of the consumer fraud/white collar crime unit of the San Francisco District Attorney's office.[2]

Legal careerEdit

Prior to his career in journalism, Bonner worked as an attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, the Consumers Union (establishing its West Coast Advocacy office), and as head of the white collar crime division of the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

He taught at the University of California, Davis School of Law.[3]

Journalism careerEdit

Reporting on El SalvadorEdit

Bonner is best known as one of two journalists (the other being Alma Guillermoprieto of The Washington Post) who broke the story of the El Mozote massacre, in which some 900 villagers, mostly women, children and elderly, at El Mozote, El Salvador, were slaughtered by the Atlacatl Battalion, a unit of the Salvadoran army in December 1981. A New York Times staff reporter at the time, Bonner was smuggled by Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels to visit the site approximately a month after the massacre took place.

When the Post and Times simultaneously broke the story on January 27, 1982, the US government and its allies at the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal dismissed its central claims as exaggerations. This whitewashing effort was initiated because Bonner's report seriously undermined efforts by the Reagan administration to bolster the human rights image of the right-wing Salvadoran regime, which the US government was supporting with large amounts of military aid in an effort to destroy the FMLN. The Atlacatl Battalion that perpetrated the massacre was an elite Salvadoran army unit that had been trained in the US at US military bases, and armed and directed by US military advisors operating in El Salvador.[4][5][6] This was part of a larger US effort to conceal from the public the human rights abuses of the Salvadoran regime and its role in supporting it.[7] As a result of the controversy, escalated by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times removed him from covering El Salvador and assigned him to the financial desk, and he eventually resigned. Also as a result of the controversy, according to journalists like Anthony Lewis and Michael Massing writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, "other newspapers worried about looking soft on Communism and toned down their reporting from El Salvador."[8] A forensic investigation of the massacre site years later confirmed the accuracy of his reporting.[9]

Later work as journalistEdit

Starting years later, Bonner has written on contract for the New York Times, covering the Rwanda genocide, the Bosnian War, and the two terrorist bombings in Bali, Indonesia. He was also a staff writer at The New Yorker from 1988 to 1992, writing from Peru, Sudan, Indonesia, Kuwait, and Kurdistan. From 1988 to 2007, Bonner lived in Nairobi and then Warsaw, Vienna, and Jakarta.

Since 2007, he has written book reviews, principally about international security, for The New York Times, The Economist, The Australian, The National Interest and The Guardian.

Illegal surveillance by FBIEdit

In 2008 the Washington Post reported that Bonner had been one of the four journalists whose telephone call records had been illegally obtained by the FBI between 2002 and 2006.[10] During that time Bonner had been based in Jakarta, Indonesia, filing reports on detainee abuse and illegal surveillance.[11]

Pro bono workEdit

Bonner is the co-founder of OneJustice (formerly Public Interest Clearinghouse), an organization that expands the availability of legal services for Californians in need through innovative partnerships with nonprofits, law schools, and the private sector.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Bonner currently lives in New York. He is married to Jane Perlez, who is also a New York Times journalist.[12]


  • Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, 1985, for "Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador".
  • Overseas Press Club Award, 1994, for coverage of Rwanda.
  • Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, 1996, by the Nieman Foundation Fellows. The citation reads, "In his work in Central America, the Philippines, Central Europe and Africa, Bonner has demonstrated a passionate, principled journalism."
  • Pulitzer Prize, 1999 (team award), while with The New York Times
  • Cornelius Ryan Award from the Overseas Press Club
  • Hillman Prize for Book Journalism
  • He was nominated again for the Pulitzer Prize by The New York Times in 2001, along with Sara Rimer, for their coverage of the death penalty.
  • RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award for "A Search for Justice," 2015.[13]


  • Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador. New York: Times Books, 1984. ISBN 0-8129-1108-3 (Winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award)
  • Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy. New York: Times Books, 1987. ISBN 0-8129-1326-4 (winner of Overseas Press Club, and Sidney Hillman Foundation awards for best book on foreign affairs)
  • At the Hand of Man: Peril and Hope for Africa's Wildlife. New York: Knopf, 1993. ISBN 0-679-40008-7
  • Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong. New York: Knopf, 2012. ISBN 978-0-307-70021-6


  1. ^ MacMurray College Success Stories. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  2. ^ Lyons Award Goes to American Journalist. The Harvard University Gazette. May 2, 1996. Retrieved July 19, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Raymond Bonner". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  4. ^ "A Year of Reckoning: El Salvador a Decade After the Assassination of Archbishop Romero" Human Rights Watch, 1990, pp. 224-225
  5. ^ "HOW U.S. ADVISERS RUN THE WAR IN EL SALVADOR" Philadelphia Inquirer, May 29, 1983
  6. ^ "LETTER DATED 29 MARCH 1993 FROM THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL", S/25500, Report of the UN Truth Commission on El Salvador, 1 Apr. 1993
  7. ^ "How U.S. Actions Helped Hide Salvador Human Rights Abuses" New York Times, March 21, 1993
  8. ^ quoting Lewis, Michael Miner (April 15, 1993). "Changing Times: The Vindication of Raymond Bonner". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  9. ^ Michael Miner (April 15, 1993). "Changing Times: The Vindication of Raymond Bonner". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  10. ^ "FBI Apologizes to Post, Times". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  11. ^ Andre Damon (20 January 2010). "FBI illegally obtained thousands of phone records - World Socialist Web Site". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Jane Perlez". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  13. ^ Wilson, Sianne. "A Search for Justice". Retro Report. Retrieved 15 December 2016.

External linksEdit