A veteran of the Washington Post and Miami Herald among others, Shroder has made a career of investigative journalism and human-interest stories, from interviewing South American children who claim to have memories of past lives for his book Old Souls, to a former Marine suffering from debilitating PTSD and his doctor who is pioneering a successful psychedelic drug treatment in Acid Test. Shroder’s most fascinating reporting, however, comes from within his own family: his grandfather, MacKinlay Kantor, was the world-famous author of Andersonville, the seminal novel of the Civil War. As a child, Shroder was in awe of the larger-than-life character. Kantor’s friends included Ernest Hemingway, Carl Sandberg, Gregory Peck and James Cagney. He was an early mentor to John D. MacDonald, and is credited with discovering the singer Burl Ives. He wrote the novel Glory for Me, which became the multi-Oscar-winning film The Best Years of Our Lives. He ghostwrote General Curtis LeMay’s memoirs, penning the infamous words “we’re going to bomb them back to the Stone Age” regarding North Vietnam. Kantor also suffered from alcoholism, an outsized ego, and an overbearing, abusive, and publically embarrassing personality where his family was concerned; he blew through a small fortune in his lifetime, dying nearly destitute and alone. In The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived, Shroder revisits the past–Kantor’s upbringing, his early life, and career trajectory–and writes not just the life story of one man but a meditation on fame, family secrets and legacies, and what is remembered after we are gone.
Tom Shroder is an award-winning journalist, editor, and author of Old Souls and Acid Test, a transformative look at the therapeutic powers of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of PTSD. As editor of The Washington Post Magazine, he conceived and edited two Pulitzer Prize winning feature stories. His most recent editing project, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, by Brigid Schulte, was a New York Times bestseller.