The Success Story of Raymond Bonner '64
"What did MacMurray do for me? Well, I've had a pretty good life, haven't I? It had to have a foundation. My mother was the most influential, giving me good values. But after I left home, still very unformed, it was MacMurray. The school must have done something right. I was able to get into Stanford Law School. I still remember some of my professors very fondly: Dr. Frau Robbins, who jingled the cup every time in German class if we mispronounced 'ie' and 'ei;' Richard Palmer, who introduced me to The New Republic, the notion that presidents are sold like toothpaste and introduced me to Dante; Professor Smith, the philosophy professor, and Dean Freiburg (even though I never took another course in his department, I remember him well). And nobody, but nobody, who went through MacMurray while he was there will ever, can ever, or want to forget Bill Wall, a force and influence of his own."
Raymond Bonner graduated from MacMurray College in 1964 with a degree in political science. During his time at Mac, he lettered in soccer, cross country and track and was a member of the Honor Society. After graduation, he was awarded with a law degree from Stanford School of Law in 1967.
After law school, Bonner went to work for a law firm in Honolulu in 1968. He then joined the Marine Corps and worked most of the time as a judge advocate in Vietnam, where he enjoyed court-martials, mostly as a defense lawyer. After the Marines, he traveled Europe, including Eastern Europe and Russia. He then worked for Ralph Nader's Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, DC and moved to a position as director of the West Coast Advocacy Office for the Consumers Union in San Francisco. He served as the head of the Consumer Fraud/White Collar Crime Unit for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and taught a seminar in public interest litigation for the University of California, Davis School of Law. He also established the Public Interest Clearinghouse at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.
Bonner's "wandering life" began in Central America. After Bolivia in 1982, he went to Central America, and reported from El Salvador, beginning his career for the New York Times, where he has worked periodically since. He wrote from Peru, Kuwait, South Africa, Kurdistan, and Indonesia as a staff writer for The New Yorker. He has reported from approximately 100 countries, on topics surrounding wars, coups, famines, and since 9/11, about terrorism, including covering both Bali bombings. Recently, he has been writing book reviews for the New York Review of Books, The New York Times Sunday Book Review; The Australian: Economist; and London Review of Books.
His honors and awards include the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism in 1996 from the Nieman Foundation of Harvard University for his work in Central America, the Philippines, Central Europe, and Africa. He was nominated by The New York Times for the Overseas Press Club Award in 1994 for his coverage of Rwanda and was nominated by The New York Times for the Pulitzer Prize for 2000 for reporting about the death penalty in America with colleague, Sara Rimer. Bonner has also written three books: "Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador", which received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award; "Waltzing With a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy"; and "At the Hand of Man: Peril and Hope for Africa's Wildlife".
He married Jane Perlez, an Australian journalist who was The New York Times' chief diplomatic correspondent. The couple now resides in London.
Despite his achievements and extensive travels, Bonner feels his greatest accomplishment relates back to his days in track and cross country at MacMurray: he has finished nine marathons in under three hours, the best in 2:36:42.