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John Berendt (born December 5, 1939) is an American author, known for writing the best-selling non-fiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

Berendt grew up in Syracuse, New York, where both of his parents were writers. As an English major at Harvard University, he worked on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon. He graduated in 1961 and moved to New York City to pursue a journalism career.[1]

Berendt was an associate editor of Esquire from 1961 to 1969, editor of New York Magazine from 1977 to 1979 and a columnist for Esquire from 1982 to 1994.[1]

When he penned Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in 1994, Berendt became an overnight success. Chronicling the real-life events surrounding a murder trial in Savannah, Georgia,[2] the book spent a record-breaking 216 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

A movie version directed by Clint Eastwood appeared in 1997 to mixed reviews. It starred Kevin Spacey as Jim Williams, a rich antiques dealer tried for murder, Jude Law as the young hustler shot by Williams, and John Cusack as a character loosely based on Berendt.

Berendt's most recent book, The City of Falling Angels, chronicling interwoven lives in Venice in the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the La Fenice opera house, was published in September 2005.[3] According to Kirkus Reviews, "Berendt does great justice to an exalted city that has rightly fascinated the likes of Henry James, Robert Browning, and many filmmakers throughout the world." [4]


  1. ^ a b Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: About the Author, January 20, 2009.
  2. ^ Reading Group Center: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, January 20, 2009.
  3. ^ Penguin Reading Guides, The City of Falling Angels.
  4. ^ Kirkus Reviews (1 August 2005)

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