Barry Siegel, winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. He now directs the literary journalism program at University of California Irvine, where he is a professor of English. His writing has garnered dozens of other honors, among them two PEN Center West Literary Awards in Journalism, the Livingston Award, and the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award. He is the author of five previous books, including two volumes of literary journalism - A Death in White Bear Lake and Shades of Gray - and three novels of legal suspense. He has given several talks at universities, journalism schools, and literary festivals.
Siegel’s latest book is Claim of Privilege: A Mysterious Plane Crash, a Landmark Supreme Court Case, and the Rise of State Secrets (Harper), a dramatic, suspenseful, character-driven narrative about the mysterious 1948 crash of an Air Force B-29 in Georgia; the lawsuit filed by the widows of men who died in the crash; and the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling U.S. v. Reynolds, which formally recognized the States Secrets Privilege, forever changing the balance of power in America. Jeffrey Tobin says Siegel “offers a timely reminder of the perils of government secrecy.”
Siegel’s first book, A Death in White Bear Lake, told the story of a community that for 22 years never stopped wondering what it could-or should-have done to prevent a small boy’s death. The Mystery Writers of America made it an Edgar Award finalist in the best fact crime category, the New York Public Library picked it as one of 25 “Books to Remember” for 1990, and a panel of experts assembled by the St. Louis Post Dispatch included it on an all-time list of the 10 best true-crime books.
The plots of Siegel’s novels incorporate much of what he has witnessed traveling the country for the Times. They are acts of imagination, but they rise from the type of events that unfold constantly in the American judicial system.
Born in St. Louis and raised in Los Angeles, Siegel edited the student newspaper at Pomona College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his master’s degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Siegel lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.