W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

From Academic Kids

W. Thomas Smith, Jr. (born April 30, 1959) is an American author, editor, and journalist. His work has appeared in many of the world's leading newspapers and magazines. He is a columnist for MilitaryWeek and a frequent contributor to National Review Online.


Education and Military Service

Smith graduated from the University of South Carolina (USC) in 1982 with a baccalaureate degree in history. He then served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry leader, parachutist, and shipboard special weapons security and counterterrorism instructor. Following his hitch in the Corps in 1987, he served on a para-military SWAT team in the nuclear industry. Soon thereafter, he began his career as a journalist.

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W. Thomas Smith Jr., U.S. Marines, 1983


Smith has written for numerous publications, including USA TODAY, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, The New York Post, and the U.K.'s The Guardian. In 1998, he co-authored a George magazine feature with John F. Kennedy Jr. (Smith interviewed Gen. William C. Westmoreland in Charleston, S.C. - Kennedy interviewed Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap in Vietnam). The interviews were published together as a single piece on the Vietnam War in the November 1998 issue of George.

As a war correspondent, Smith reported from battlefields in both the Balkans in 1995 and in the Middle East in 1997, and he covered the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks from ground zero in New York. Also during the 1990's, he worked as a business magazine editor, a contract media relations director, a publicist for NBA basketball player Vince Carter and other professional athletes, and was the sole columnist for head football coach Lou Holtz's official website during Holtz's inaugural season at USC.

Smith's first book, Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency, was published in 2003. He has since written three other books, all military titles (see bibliography).

Missing image
American Airborne Forces by W. Thomas Smith Jr. (New York, Alpha Books, Penguin Group USA, 2004)

Smith has been interviewed by national publications; NBC, CBS, and ABC television affiliates; and he is a frequent guest-commentator on nationally syndicated radio programs, National Public Radio (NPR), and international radio, including the BBC. His articles have been included more than 20 times in radio-host Rush Limbaugh's daily "stack of stuff."

Smith is a contributing writer for A Nation Changed, a book commemorating the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (published by U.S. News & World Report). He is the technical editor and foreword writer for the second edition of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq by Joseph Tragert, and he is the technical editor and "special afterword" writer for Contract Warriors by Fred Rosen.

Smith teaches "breaking into national print" at the Buckley School of Written Expression. He serves as adjunct professor at USC's College of Journalism and Mass Communications (where he has taught "magazine writing," "national print writing," and "public opinion and propaganda."), and he has lectured groups and conferences from Fortune 500 companies to the U.S. Armed Forces.

A former correspondent for Agencia EFE (the world's largest Spanish-language news wire), Smith currently writes a column, Beyond the DropZone, for MilitaryWeek; and he is a frequent contributor to National Review Online (NRO). Some of his stories have been picked up by the Scripps Howard News wire. At least one of his pieces was re-published by the U.S. House Armed Services Committee (http://www.house.gov/hasc/GoodNews/Iraqisoldierssavemarine.html). Others have been re-published by the U.S. Department of Defense.

A member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and the National Press Club, Smith serves on the advisory board of the Southern Literature Council of Charleston.



  • Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency - NY, Facts On File, 2003 - ISBN 0816046670
  • Alpha Bravo Delta Guide to Decisive 20th-Century American Battles (foreword by Brigadier General David L. Grange) - NY, Alpha-Penguin, 2003 - ISBN 1592571476
  • Alpha Bravo Delta Guide to American Airborne Forces (foreword by Colonel Jeffery Bearor) - NY, Alpha-Penguin, 2004 - ISBN 1592571662
  • Alpha Bravo Delta Guide to the Korean Conflict (foreword by Dr. C. Kenneth Quinones) - NY, Alpha-Penguin, 2004 - ISBN 1592572138

Magazines and Newspapers

Smith has contributed to the following magazines, newspapers, and wire services:

  • George
  • USA TODAY International
  • BusinessWeek
  • The New York Post
  • National Review Online
  • U.S. News & World Report
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • The Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • The Knoxville News-Sentinel
  • The Florida Times-Union
  • The Charlotte Observer
  • The Orlando Sentinel
  • The Guardian (UK)
  • The State
  • NBA.com
  • Agencia EFE (Spanish-language)
  • Scripps-Howard News Service
  • others


  • Smith testified against the Ku Klux Klan in a national civil rights trial in 1997, after infilitrating and writing an expose about the KKK in 1996. Smith was approached about testifying by civil rights attorney Morris Dees.
  • Smith lived with the homeless in order to write about their lives.
  • Smith spent a week in a Bosnian refugee camp in 1995.
  • Smith, in 1997, spent several days living in a PLO camp in Judea on the West Bank. He also patrolled the streets of Hebron with Israeli paratroopers.
  • Smith teaches media and writing at both the University of South Carolina's School of Journalism (overseen by Dean Charles Bierbauer, former CNN senior Washington correspondent) and the Buckley School (overseen by founder and president Fergus Reid Buckley, author, debate-master, and brother of author-essayist William F. Buckley, Jr.)
  • Smith's agent is James C. Vines, president of the Manhattan-based Vines Agency.
  • Smith is directly descended from Robert I, King of Scotland, also known as Robert the Bruce.
  • Smith's cousin, Rear Admiral Norman M. Smith, was a key figure in the founding of the U.S. Navy's SeaBees (for CB's - construction battalions) during the 1930's. Admiral Smith later served as president of the University of South Carolina.
  • Smith's Italian-American (maternal) grandmother, Alba Germino, was the first pianist in history to play piano live on coast-to-coast radio (1940's).
  • Smith, on a hunting trip in 1988, reportedly killed a wild boar with a knife.
  • Smith writes a bi-weekly column for MilitaryWeek.com, entitled, BEYOND THE DROPZONE (http://www.militaryweek.com/dropzone.shtml).


  • "Despite its detractors, the Marines have become a wholly American institution — like baseball players, cowboys, and astronauts — in the eyes of most Americans." ---- National Review, 2004
  • "...every U.S. soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, and coast guardsman stationed throughout the world in the 21st century is a spiritual descendent of that motley band of irregulars who formed ranks in the darkness on Lexington Green,..." ---- MilitaryWeek, 2005
  • "Pat Conroy once said that no Southern man is complete without a tenure under military rule. I'm quite certain I wouldn't be." ---- in a 2004 interview for Free Times (Columbia, S.C.)
  • "...in most cases, if we're being honest with ourselves, writer's block is simply unconscious procrastination or worse, sheer laziness. The fix? Stop whining, start working, and forget about the muse and her little word fairies. They're usually throwing inspiration parties over at Rick Bragg’s or Peggy Noonan’s." ---- University of South Carolina School of Journalism i-site, 2004

External links and references

External links


  • Allen, Moira, Are you ready to take the plunge (Waukesha, WI, The Writer, May 2002)
  • Anderson, Dickie, Non-Fiction (Jacksonville, Florida, The Florida Times-Union, September 7, 2003)
  • Gale Group Biography Resource Center (Who's Who in America ®, 57th edition, Who's Who in America ®, 56th edition)
  • Guetersloh, Herman, Local Writer Wins Book Deal, (Columbia, S.C., Free Times, November 8-14, 2000)
  • Harper, Timothy, ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing (NY, St Martins, 2003) ISBN 0312318529
  • Huiett, John, USC Graduate becoming national name in freelance journalism, (Columbia, S.C. The Gamecock, August 18, 2000)
  • Hyde, Kevin, Local Freelance Writer Gets First Book Deal (Columbia, S.C., Greater Columbia Business Monthly, February 2001)
  • Kiss, Jemima, Military Expert On Call (Brighton, East Sussex, England, UK, dotJournalism, September 9, 2004)
  • McDonald, Bill, Recognizing Good Works (Columbia, S.C., The State, Nov. 22, 1998)
  • MacLeod, Robert, Carter's value continues to soar, (Toronto, Canada, The Globe and Mail, May 7, 1999)
  • Moniz, Dave, Talk About Town (Columbia, S.C., The State, November 13, 1996)
  • Nash, Jessica, Assignment: Bosnia, (Columbia, S.C. The Gamecock, February 6, 1996)
  • Pasquet-James, Barbara, On the Rue, (Paris, FR, BonjourPARIS, November 18, 2003)
  • Peterson, Larry, Sky Soldiers (Savannah, GA, The Savannah Morning News, April 18, 2004)
  • Sabalos, Sarah, 5 Questions with W. Thomas Smith Jr. (Columbia, S.C. The State, July 25, 2003)

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