Distinguished author and historian James Reston Jr. is a scholar in residence at the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress.
Reston, who will be at the Kluge Center through May 2011, is working on “The Last Sultan of Grenada,” which will tell the story of Boabdil or Muhammad XI, the Arab king who surrendered the fortress Alhambra to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in January 1492. The project is an outgrowth of Reston’s 2005 book “Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition and the Defeat of the Moors.”
Reston is the author of 15 books, three plays and numerous articles in national magazines. His last five historical works—“Defenders of the Faith: Christianity and Islam Battle for the Soul of Europe 1520-1536” (2010), “Dogs of God,” “Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade” (2002), “Galileo: A Life” (2000) and “The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D.” (1999)—have been translated into 13 foreign languages.
In 1976-1977, Reston was David Frost’s Watergate adviser for the famous Frost/Nixon interviews, seen by 57 million people worldwide. His narrative of that experience was published in 2007 and titled “The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews.” The manuscript was the main inspiration to the British playwright, Peter Morgan, in making his hit London play “Frost/Nixon,” in which Reston is a major character. In the Hollywood adaptation of the play, directed by Ron Howard, Reston is played by the actor Sam Rockwell.
In 1983, Reston was awarded the Prix Italia and the Dupont-Columbia Award for a 90-minute radio documentary on National Public Radio “Father Cares: the Last of Jonestown.” Reston’s articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, Esquire, American Theatre, Playboy and Rolling Stone. In recent years, he has lectured widely in the United States and overseas on the millennium, the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Ottomans at Vienna, citing their relevance to modern issues.
Reston earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while on a Morehead Scholarship. He attended Oxford University during his junior year. Reston was an assistant to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall (1964-1965) and served in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1968.
Reston has been a fellow at the American Academy in Rome and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/