Jay Anthony Lukas, aka J. Anthony Lucas (April 25, 1933—June 5, 1997), was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and author, probably best known for his 1985 book A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families, a classic study of race relations and school busing in Boston, Massachusetts, as seen through the eyes of three families: one upper-middle-class white, one working-class white, and one African-American.
J. Anthony Lukas was born to Elizabeth and Edwin Lukas in White Plains, New York, followed by a younger brother in 1935, Christopher Lukas. His mother was an actress, and his uncle Paul Lukas was an Academy Award—winning actor. Lukas at first wanted to be an actor. After his mother's death by suicide and his father's illness after her death, he was at the age of eight enrolled in the coeducational Putney School boarding school in Vermont. After he graduated he attended Harvard University where he worked at the Harvard Crimson. In 1955 Lukas graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. He continued his education at the Free University of Berlin as an Adenauer Fellow. Lukas then served in the US Army in Japan where he wrote commentaries for VUNC (the Voice of the United Nations Command).
Lukas began his professional journalism career at the Baltimore Sun, then moved to The New York Times. He stayed at the Times for nine years, working as a roving reporter, and serving at the Washington, New York, and United Nations bureaus, and overseas in Ceylon, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa, and Zaire, before the Congo. After working at the New York Times Magazine for a short time in the 1970s, Lukas quit reporting to pursue a career in book and magazine writing, becoming known for writing intensely researched nonfiction works. He was a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly, the Columbia Journalism Review, Esquire, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, and the Saturday Review, a co-founder and editor of MORE, a "critical journal" on the news media, which "collapsed" in 1978, and a "contributing editor to the New Times, an alternative magazine that folded also in 1978."
"The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzgerald" , 1967, a Pulitzer-winning New York Times article on the life and death of a teenager in the hippie and drug counterculture
The Barnyard Epithet and Other Obscenities: Notes on the Chicago Conspiracy Trial, 1970, a story on the Chicago Seven, aka the Chicago Eight
Don't Shoot, We Are Your Children!, 1971, included the Pulitzer-winning story, "The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzgerald" and other stories of members of the Sixties' generation. A section written by Kai Erikson, a sociologist and an American Studies professor at Yale University and the editor of The Yale Review challenged the view that there was a generation gap between the 60s' generation and the generations before it, and that argued instead that the 60s' generation expressed overtly what previous generations had expressed covertly.
Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years, 1976, a book on Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal
A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families, 1985, a book on busing and school desegregation in Boston and three families and their histories.
Big Trouble, 1997, a posthumously published history of a struggle between unions and mining company officials and supporters in Idaho during the early twentieth century.
In 1997, while his last book, Big Trouble, was undergoing final revisions, Lukas committed suicide by hanging himself with a bathrobe sash. He had been diagnosed with depression about ten years earlier.In an interview that followed the publication of Common Ground he gave some hints about his impending suicide, linking it with his career as a writer. "All writers ...," he said, "are, to one extent or another, damaged people. Writing is our way of repairing ourselves. In my own case, I was filling a hole in my life which opened at the age of eight, when my mother killed herself, throwing our family into utter disarray. My father quickly developed tuberculosis...psychosomatically triggered, the doctors thought...forcing him to seek treatment in an Arizona sanatorium. We sold our house and my brother and I were shipped off to boarding school. Effectively, from the age of eight, I had no family, and certainly no community. That's one reason the book worked: I wasn't just writing a book about busing. I was filling a hole in myself".
Lukas won his first Pulitzer Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, in 1968 for his New York Times article "The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzpatrick." This article documented the life and violent death of a teenager from a wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut family who became involved in drugs and the hippie movement. Also in 1967 Lukas was awarded a George Polk Award in Local Reporting
A second Pulitzer, the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction,was awarded to Lukas for Common Ground., for which he also received the 1985 National Book Award, the National Book Critics Award,, the 1985-1986 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and the Political Book of the Year Award.
Lukas is now the namesake of the Lukas Prize Project, co-administered by the Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard, to support the works of American nonfiction writers. The project gives conferences and presents three annual awards: the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.