Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Lewis M. Simons’s recollects his 50 years as a foreign correspondent, one whose powerful stories contributed to transforming Asia from Vietnam War-era basket case to a global boomtown that today rivals the United States.
Simons’s investigative work led to the toppling of a dictator in the Philippines. He covered the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, bloody coups in Thailand, attempted genocide and societal collapse in Cambodia, and economic advance, decline and rebirth in Japan. He was expelled from India for his exclusive reporting on Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s political misuse of the armed forces. Breaking his own strict rule against becoming personally involved with people whose stories he covered, he saved the life of a dying teenaged Tibetan Buddhist monk.
Simons molds the narrative of his lengthy, action-packed career from foxhole mud and backroom dirt. Layered with moments of tenderness and humor, as his camp-following family often accompanies him, the result is a masterful chronicle of war and murder; extreme poverty and suffering alongside repellent wealth and indulgence; wholesale larceny and ruling-class corruption—much of which escaped the scrutiny of other journalists. Readers who appreciate real-life historic drama will be enthralled.
Pulitzer Prize winner Lewis M. Simons began his career as a foreign correspondent in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War. He saw the war through to the end, covering the fall of the neighboring states of Laos and Cambodia.Since then, he has reported on politics, economics, civil unrest and social conditions throughout the world, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh; Iraq and Iran; China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea, as well as the former Soviet Union. He was a staff correspondent for The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Knight-Ridder Newspapers and Time and wrote major stories for National Geographic.
In 1986, Simons and two colleagues at the San Jose Mercury News won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for exposing the billions that the Marcos family looted from the Philippines. “Your series made history,” wrote the late U.S. Representative Stephen Solarz. Columbia University cited the articles as among the fifty best in fifty years. Simons was also a two-time Pulitzer finalist, and has received numerous other journalism awards, including the George Polk and the University of Missouri’s Investigative Reporters and Editors. He was the Edward R. Murrow Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Simons’ op-ed and analytical articles have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Atlantic and Smithsonian magazines. His work also has appeared in USA Today, where he is a member of the Board of Contributors, and in online media, including The Huffington Post; The Daily Beast; Daily Kos; Yaleglobal.com and Columbia Journalism Review. He has been on ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, BBC and CBC.
He is the author of Worth Dying For: A Pulitzer Prize Winner’s Account of the Philippine Revolution, co-author with Senator Christopher S. Bond of The Next Front: Southeast Asia and the Road to Global Peace with Islam and a contributing author of half a dozen books on war and international affairs.
Simons served in the Marine Corps Reserve. He is married to fellow journalist Carol Simons. They have three adult children and reside in Washington, DC.
Chapter One – Murder in Manila
Chapter Two – The Prince of Paterson
Chapter Three – A Lost and Found Decade
Chapter Four – Total Bullshit
Chapter Five – Tet
Chapter Six - Quiet No More in Malaysia
Chapter Seven - My Favorite Dictator
Chapter Eight – The Council, the Papers and the Post
Chapter Nine –Molested at Birth
Chapter Ten – Delhi Wallah
Chapter Eleven – Excess Baggage
Chapter Twelve – Stirring up Trouble in India
Chapter Thirteen – Birth and Death in Bangkok
Chapter Fourteen – Knight Rider to the Rescue
Chapter Fifteen – Filling the Dumpling
Chapter Sixteen– The Other Chinese
Chapter Seventeen – Time to Go
Chapter Eighteen – Holding the Line
Chapter Nineteen — Crossing the Line
About the Author
It is a privilege to read the stories of a professional journalist present at so many hugely significant events in Asia over the decades…. Simons has many lessons to teach and wisdom to impart to journalists, including to be objective and leave the commentary to others; the facts will speak for themselves. That said, this supremely well-written and thoroughly captivating narrative is much more than “just the facts” reporting. Simons is a wonderful storyteller and this is an invaluable chronicle of the experiences of a foreign correspondent. It is also a boon for readers interested in the complex relationships between Asia and the U.S. from the 1960s through the 2010s.
Lew Simons' To Tell The Truth is the improbable, true, and captivating story of a New Jersey butcher’s son who became an intrepid foreign correspondent covering five decades of wars, revolutions, upheavals and famines throughout Asia and the Middle East. With telling detail, Simons explores the thoughtless cruelty of the prosperous and rich who blind themselves to the desperately poor surrounding them, the abrupt collapse of abusive governments and their replacement by equally abusive regimes, and vividly recounts how his Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation for the San Jose Mercury News led to the downfall of the Marcos regime in The Philippines. A delightfully engaging read.
How many reporters have helped topple a dictator? Lew Simons is one of the very few. A fascinating chronicle by one of America’s best foreign correspondents, To Tell the Truth deftly weaves penetrating coverage of turbulent times with intimate family stories. A great book by a truly talented journalist.
As a young foreign correspondent in Asia three decades ago, I quickly learned a few things about Lew Simons. First, you didn’t want to compete with him. Second, no one understood Asia — and America’s misadventures there — better than Lew did. And finally, there was no more elegant writer, empathetic reporter or greater investigator. To Tell the Truth is a reminder of what a truly gifted reporter does: Dig, expose and explain in beautiful prose. No one does it better.
Doubtless the investigative stories and exposes of the San Jose Mercury News team can be called one of the greatest successes in the history of the internationally oriented Pulitzer Prizes.