Friday, October 10, 2008

David Ignatius, the Washington Post columnist, for instance, used his knowledge of post-Sept. 11 geopolitics to create the spy thriller “Body of Lies.” A movie adaptation of the novel opens in area theaters today. But don’t even get us started on journalists as aspiring screenwriters.

1. Ward Just- A foreign correspondent, including in Vietnam, for Newsweek and The Washington Post for 10 years, Mr. Just has climbed every rung of the ladder that leads from the depths of journalism to the heights of literature. It’s no criticism to say he remains, even in fiction, a great reporter.

2. William F. Buckley- In between founding an influential magazine (National Review) and overseeing the intellectual education of future presidents (Ronald Reagan), the late Mr. Buckley (technically a New Englander but an honorary Washingtonian) wrote a well-regarded series of spy novels starring CIA agent Blackford Oakes. His son, comic novelist Christopher, who does reside in the Washington area, carries on the Buckley literary tradition full time.

3. Jim Lehrer- The longtime PBS “NewsHour” host has quietly amassed a substantial c.v. as a novelist and playwright. His latest, “Eureka,” is an Alexander Payne-esque tale of a Midwestern insurance executive weathering a midlife crisis.

4. Stephen Hunter- The recently retired, Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic at the Baltimore Sun and The Post has written thriller novels since 1980. “Point of Impact” was adapted for last year’s Antoine Fuqua-directed movie “Shooter.” Mr. Hunter’s cameo ignominiously was cut from the final version.

5. Penny Mickelbury- Before she made it as a mystery novelist, Miss Mickelbury had seen Washington journalism from a couple of vantage points: as a reporter for The Post and a political reporter for the local ABC-TV affiliate.

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