Steve Coll '80 Wins Pulitzer
Washington Post Associate Editor Steve Coll ’80 has been awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for his book Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.
This is the second Pulitzer for Coll, who stepped down in December as managing editor of the Post. He shared the 1990 prize for explanatory journalism with fellow Post reporter David A. Vise for a series of newspaper stories that scrutinized the Securities and Exchange Commission and the impact of former chairman John Shad.
Asked how he wrote Ghost Wars while serving full-time as managing editor, Coll told the Post, “I worked seven days a week for two years and used weekends to catch up. What was hard was writing it – that nearly broke me. I started getting up in the middle of the night to do some writing before I came to work.”
In an April 2004 review, the New York Times called Ghost Wars “terrific” and “certainly the finest historical narrative so far on the origins of al-Qaeda in the post-Soviet rubble of Afghanistan.”
A native of Maryland, Coll got his start in journalism at Occidental, working on The Occidental, the student newspaper. He joined the Post in 1985 as a writer for the newspaper’s Style section, then jumped to the business section where he won his first Pulitzer before working for six years as a foreign correspondent. He was named managing editor in 1998 after two years as editor and publisher of The Washington Post Magazine.
He is the author or co-author of four other books: Eagle on the Street (1991), his account (with Vise) of the SEC; The Deal of the Century (1986), on the breakup of AT&T; The Taking of Getty Oil (1988); and On The Grand Trunk Road (1994), which relates his travels in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.