Jonathan Schell was born in Manhattan, New York on August 21, 1943. He received a bachelor's degree in Far Eastern history from Harvard University and spent a year studying Japanese at the International Christian University in Tokyo. In 1967, while heading home from his year abroad in Japan, he stopped in Vietnam, where he witnessed Operation Cedar Falls, an aerial campaign designed to level Ben Suc, which was known as a Vietcong stronghold. This experience led to his first book The Village of Ben Suc. His other non-fiction works include The Fate of the Earth, The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons Now, The Unfinished Twentieth Century, The Unconquerable World, and The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker from 1967 to 1987. He also worked as a columnist for Newsday and New York Newsday and as a correspondent for The Nation. He taught at numerous universities including Yale, Princeton, Wesleyan, and N.Y.U. He died of cancer on March 25, 2014 at the age of 70.