Lee Sandlin, an award-winning journalist and essayist, was born in Highland Park, Illinois, and grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He briefly attended the University of Chicago and Roosevelt University before leaving school to travel and write.
He has written feature journalism, historical studies, and music reviews on opera and classical works — primarily for the Chicago Reader, where he was also for many years the TV critic. Later, he became a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal.
His essay “Losing the War,” first appeared in 1997, subtitled "World War II has faded into movies, anecdotes, and archives that nobody cares about anymore. Are we finally losing the war?" It has been on university reading lists and praised in blogs of both anti-war activists and neocon crusaders. A segment was adapted for broadcast by the public radio show “This American Life” and anthologized by its host, Ira Glass, in a 2007 collection, “The New Kings of Nonfiction.”
“Saving His Life,” his biography of his father-in-law, a Russian emigre who grew up in China, was published in a limited edition by Sherwin Beach Press. The Distancers (2004) chronicled the American Midwest of several generations, as reflected in the history of a single house.
His first book “Wicked River,” is a narrative history of the Mississippi River in the 19th century. “Storm Kings,” is a history of tornado chasing. A revised, expanded version of “The Distancers was published as a paperback original.”
Lee lived in Chicago. He passed away unexpectedly on December 14, 2014.
An extensive survey of his other interests can be found on the Enthusiasms page.
Lee Sandlin at Wicked River launch party
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