Laurence Leamer is a celebrated historian, journalist, and bestselling author of more than a dozen books. Leamer has worked in places including the What Cheer, Iowa Patriot-Chronicle, a factory in France, and a coalmine in West Virginia. After graduating Antioch College, he joined the Peace Corps and was one of the earliest volunteers to Nepal.
In the number-two New York Times bestselling book, The Kennedy Women (Villard), Leamer changed the way America viewed its most famous family in the first volume in a multigenerational history. Beginning in 1849 with the arrival of Bridget Murphy Kennedy to Boston from Ireland, the book tells the extraordinary story of five generations of women. Leamer interviewed most of the Kennedys and did hundreds of other interviews and enormous archival research. Volume two, The Kennedy Men (William Morrow),also a New York Times bestseller, starts in 1901 with twelve-year-old Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. delivering hats to Boston’s social elite and ending in 1963 with the assassination of his son, President John F. Kennedy, The Kennedy Men is based on four years of interviews as well as in-depth research including unprecedented new sources and materials: the private archives of JFK’s longtime secretary Evelyn Lincoln, secret tapes JFK recorded in the Oval Office, revealing letters from the president’s doctors, Rose Kennedy’s never–before–heard interview tapes, interviews with CIA operatives and family members.
Volume three, the New York Times best selling Sons of Camelot is the compelling story of the Kennedy sons and grandson in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy's death. Based on five years of rigorous research and unprecedented cooperation from both the Kennedys and the Shrivers, Sons of Camelot examines the lives characterized by overwhelming drama -- from the most spectacular mishaps, excesses, and tragedies to the remarkable accomplishments that have led to better lives for Americans and others around the world.
Leamer’s recent book, The Price of Justice (Times Books), tells the story of two Pittsburgh lawyers and their fifteen year struggle for justice against Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy. Many people believe that without Leamer’s book, Blankenship never would have been criminally indicted.
Leamer’s forthcoming book The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought down the Klan (William Morrow) traces the legal and social ramifications of the case that decimated the Klan. In 1981, an Alabama jury of eleven black citizens and one white found a black man innocent of the murder of a white man. Members of Alabama’s United Klans of America (UKA) had let it be known that there would be repercussions for such a verdict. That night, Henry Hays and James Knowles, two local Klansmen, drove around Mobile looking for a black man to kill. They found Michael Donald, 19, abducted him, strangled him to death, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a residential neighborhood. Drawing upon extensive archival research and interviews, Leamer’s gripping account examines one of the most heinous crimes in recent American history, and shows how an historic lawsuit brought the Klan down and the case’s key role in helping to shape the present state of race relations in America.
Leamer has written magazine articles for many publications including Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, New York, Playboy and the Washingtonian. An article of his war coverage for Harper’s of Bangladesh, won a citation from the Overseas Press Club for “Best Magazine Reporting”.
Leamer’s study of the power players in the capital, Playing for Keeps in Washington, was named a notable book of the year by the New York Times. In 1979 he moved to Peru where he got to know one of the biggest drug dealers and wrote a novel, Assignment, about the cocaine traffic. Back in the United States he wrote Ascent: The Spiritual and Physical Quest of Willi Unsoeld, a biography of the man who climbed Everest in 1963.
Leamer’s book about Palm Beach, Madness Under the Royal Palms, was so controversial that the Palm Beach police chief said he should hire security. His one-person play, Rose, about the Kennedy matriarch was presented off Broadway in late 2015
Currently, Leamer resides in Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach, Florida.
Praise for Laurence Leamer:
"Thank you for an exceptional program! Expressions of compliment and appreciation have been coming in all day.”
--Professor Ed McCord, Director, Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy University of Pittsburgh Distinguished American Lecture Series
"A riveting account of the forces–good and bad–that produced a landmark Supreme Court case and two lawyers who made the system of justice work. This was one of the most moving talks I've heard in years.”
--Ken Gormley, Dean and Professor of Law, Duquesne University School of Law, Presentation at Alleghany County Bar Association 2013 fall luncheon
“I thought this was an excellent and thought-provoking program. The subject was intriguing, captivating and supports the premise that our legal system has to be a properly and efficiently working system for providing effective and meaningful justice to serve its citizens.”
--Frank G. Giunta, Demarest & Giunta, P.L.L.C., bar association presentation at Belo Mansion, Dallas
“Your talk was so well received here in Houston. I talked to a judge who attended your Inns of Court lunch function and was blown away.”
--Kenneth Broughton ReedSmith LLP, Inns of Court luncheon, Houston
Praise for The Kennedy Men:
“If there is only one book about the Kennedys to read this must be it.”
--Myer Feldman, Deputy Special Counsel to President Kennedy
“Engaging and fast-moving…a stirring narrative.”
"Leamer is a great writer and storyteller . . . An honest account of a remarkable, perhaps unique, American political family."
--Dr. Sheldon M. Stern, Historian, John F. Kennedy Library, 1977 to 1999
"Vivid… Leamer's writing is impressive throughout…he sets up the themes that will be the motivation and ruination of Kennedy men."
“Leamer has a real gift for writing popular, accessible history…”
“Fascinating…Absorbing…With the dramatic and powerful style of a master storyteller.”
“Fast–paced…High heroic narrative…Leamer is well versed in the vast literature on the Kennedys…”
“Evenhanded…The writing is always tight and often graceful.”
“Vivid…Leamer’s writing is impressive throughout…He sets up the themes that will be the motivation and ruination of Kennedy men.
Praise for Sons of Camelot:
“Leamer’s interviews with his friends and associates provide the fullest portrait of [JFK Jr.’s] adult life to date.”
--New York Times Book Review
“Leamer’s portrait of John F. Kennedy Jr., and his marriage…feels more intimate and immediate than many that have recently appeared.”
--New York Times
“A stunning glimpse of the inner lives of the not-so-young-any-longer Kennedys.”
--New York Post
“Impeccable: Leamer never overreaches, delivering accessible and even insightful portraits of Camelot’s sons.”
“Kennedy watchers, who continue to be legion, will find this a fascinating chapter in the never-ending story.”
“Haunting…Leamer succeeds in...show[ing] how the Kennedy male offspring often crumbled under the weight of expectations.”
“Leamer has wisely loaded [SONS OF CAMELOT] with more than enough scandal to satisfy audience expectations.”