Raymond Bonner is the author of numerous books, an investigative reporter who also been a staff writer at the New York Times, and The New Yorker and contributed to The New York Review of Books. His latest book, Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong, was published by Knopf in February 2012.
Bonner graduated from MacMurray College in Illinois, in 1964, where he majored in Political Science. He lettered in soccer, track and cross country. He earned a J.D. degree from Stanford University Law School in 1967. In 1968 he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain in 1971. Before taking up journalism, Bonner worked as a staff attorney with Ralph Nader's Public Citizen Litigation Group, as the director of the West Coast office of Consumers Union, and as director of the consumer fraud/white collar crime unit of the San Francisco District Attorney's office.
Bonner is best known as one of two journalists (the other was Alma Guillermoprieto of The Washington Post) who broke the story of the El Mozote massacre, in which some 900 villagers at El Mozote, El Salvador, were slaughtered by units of the Salvadoran army in December 1981. A New York Times staff reporter at the time, Bonner was smuggled by FMLN rebels to visit the site approximately a month after the massacre took place.
When the story broke simultaneously in the Post and Times on January 27, 1982, it was dismissed as an exaggeration by the Reagan administration and its allies at the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, as it seriously undermined efforts by the US government to bolster the human rights image of the Salvadoran government, which the US was supporting with large amounts of military aid. Resulting controversy escalated by the Journal helped cause his removal from El Salvador and he was assigned to a financial desk and eventually he resigned. A forensic investigation of the massacre site years later confirmed the accuracy of his stories.
Starting years later, Bonner has since written on contract for the New York Times, covering the Rwanda genocide, Bosnia, and the two terrorist bombings in Bali. He was also a staff writer at The New Yorker from 1988 to 1992, writing from Peru, Sudan, Indonesia, Kuwait, and Kurdistan. From 1988 to 2007, Bonner lived in Nairobi and then Warsaw, Vienna, and Jakarta. Since 2007, he has written book reviews, principally about international security, for The New York Times, The Economist, The Australian, The National Interest and The Guardian.
In 2008 it emerged in an article in the Washington Post that Bonner had been one of the four journalists whose telephone call records had been illegally obtained by the FBI between 2002 and 2006. During that time Bonner had been based in Jakarta, Indonesia, filing reports on detainee abuse and illegal surveillance.
Prior to his career in journalism, Bonner was an attorney; he worked with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, the Consumers Union (establishing their West Coast Advocacy office), and the San Francisco District Attorney's office (as head of their white collar crime division). He taught at the University of California, Davis School of Law.
Bonner is the co-founder of OneJustice (formerly Public Interest Clearinghouse), an organization that expands the availability of legal services for Californians in need through innovative partnerships with nonprofits, law schools, and the private sector.
Bonner currently lives in New York. He is married to Jane Perlez, who is also a New York Times journalist.
- Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, 1985, for "Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador".
- Overseas Press Club Award, 1994, for coverage of Rwanda.
- Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, by the Nieman Foundation Fellows, in 1996. The citation reads, “In his work in Central America, the Philippines, Central Europe and Africa, Bonner has demonstrated a passionate, principled journalism,”.
- Pulitzer Prize, 1999 (team award), while with The New York Times
- Cornelius Ryan Award from the Overseas Press Club
- Hillman Prize for Book Journalism
- He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by The New York Times in 2001, along with Sara Rimer, for their coverage of the death penalty.
- RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award for "A Search for Justice," 2015.
- Wilson, Sianne. "A Search for Justice". Retro Report. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador. New York: Times Books, 1984. ISBN 0-8129-1108-3 (Winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award)
- Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy. New York: Times Books, 1987. ISBN 0-8129-1326-4 (winner of Overseas Press Club, and Sidney Hillman Foundation awards for best book on foreign affairs)
- At the Hand of Man: Peril and Hope for Africa's Wildlife. New York: Knopf, 1993. ISBN 0-679-40008-7
- Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong. New York: Knopf, 2012. ISBN 978-0-307-70021-6