First things first: we need mental resets to achieve clarity in our fast-paced world with its beaming screens and myriad notifications. For journalist Andrew Nagorski, morning rituals help. His days begin with walks along the marsh with Skye, his Irish Setter. Upon returning, Andrew might stretch before enjoying a hard copy of the newspaper. Easing into work and letting writing flow freely sometimes involves aquatics. “If I just go for a swim and stop thinking about it,” Andrew explains, “I get out of the ocean and say, ‘oh, now I know.”
A former Newsweek correspondent, Andrew keeps busy with speaking engagements, writing for The Daily Beast and completing his seventh book, The Year Germany Lost the War: 1941. Reviewing past titles like The Nazi Hunters makes clear Andrew’s expertise. But to grasp how he reached his current destination, we’ll look back at events set in motion before his birth – a microcosm of a World War II era Europe.
Born and raised in Poland, Andrew’s parents married a year before the war’s outbreak. His father was enlisted against German forces. Soon Germany overwhelmed Poland, anticipating surrender. But Andrew’s father fled to France where other Polish troops regrouped. As we know, France faced defeat at Germany’s hands, meaning British forces evacuated their troops along with Polish units. Andrew’s mother gained passage with her husband. When Andrew was born, his parents found themselves in Scotland with other military families. They quickly emigrated to New York, where his father became a diplomat. So Andrew grew up in Egypt, South Korea, and France.
His interest in journalism was somewhat blood-borne. Andrew’s father was a correspondent and news agency founder. By the 6th grade, Andrew started a modest school publication. Later as an Amherst College history major, he wrote for the campus paper. After college, Andrew decided he wanted a career in journalism. When the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor seemed out of reach, he found that he was only a few degrees of separation from key players at Newsweek. Andrew was invited to a high stakes “tryout.” It lasted for up to six months with weekly check-ins resulting in a farewell or continued training. Andrew landed the role, as it were. The next 35 years were spent with the magazine.
Looking back on those years, Andrew finds a highlight in his Moscow assignment during the 80s. There he was, breaking stories in a tightly-sealed society. His sources were courageous enough to break away from “surface conformity” in the interest of furnishing substantial information. This was in the face of KGB monitoring and harassment. Andrew describes it all as a “deadly serious game.” But to see the oppressed take a stand for the values they held dear was an inspiration.
Andrew’s rise to success is itself an inspiration. Rewards await those who pursue goals and dreams for the long haul.