John Ralston Saul


Biography of John Ralston Saul

John Ralston Saul (born June 19, 1947) is a Canadian author, essayist, and President of PEN International.

As an essayist, Saul is particularly known for his commentaries on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good; the failures of manager-led societies; the confusion between leadership and managerialism; military strategy, in particular irregular warfare; the role of freedom of speech and culture; and his critique of contemporary economic arguments.

Born in Ottawa, Saul studied at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and at King's College London where he wrote his thesis on the modernization of France under Charles de Gaulle, and earned his Ph.D in 1972. After helping to set up the national oil company Petro-Canada in 1976, as Assistant to its first Chair, Maurice F. Strong, he published his first novel The Birds of Prey in 1977. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, he travelled regularly with guerrilla armies, spending a great deal of time in North Africa and South East Asia. Out of this time came his novels, The Field Trilogy. It was during those extended periods in Northwest Africa and Southeast Asia that he witnessed fellow writers there suffering government suppression of freedom of expression, which caused him to become interested in the work of PEN International. In 2009 he was elected president of PEN International, only the second North American to hold the position since its creation in 1921, the other being Arthur Miller.

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