Jules Archer Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Jules Archer 1915–

American young adult nonfiction writer, biographer, and screenwriter. Archer is noted for writing histories and biographies for young adults that do not gloss over the unpleasant aspects of history and that present famous figures realistically, with human failings and weaknesses. He began writing for young adults when he saw the material available to his three sons in junior high and high school, textbooks and supplementary reading that he felt fed "American youngsters … pap and Pollyanna tales instead of the honest truth; the good and the bad alike." Archer served in the Air Force and became a war correspondent during World War II. From these experiences he gained background for some of his popular biographies of World War II figures, including Front-Line General: Douglas MacArthur and Battlefield President: Dwight D. Eisenhower. Archer actively researches each of his books, examining unpublished as well as published sources and traveling extensively, and often comes up with unusual or little-known facts that contribute to the interest of his works. He has a reputation for being somewhat of a George Plimpton, and in his search for material swam in the Seine at midnight, shot the rapids, climbed a live volcano by camel, and snorkeled among barracuda, among other activities. He is especially well respected for his studies of Eastern culture and history. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 9-12, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 4.)