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Friday, April 4, 2003


Statement from Atlantic Media on the death of Michael Kelly

Following is a statement by David Bradley, chairman and owner of Atlantic Media; John Fox Sullivan, president and group publisher, and Cullen Murphy, managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly.

We received word this morning from the Department of Defense that Michael Kelly, the editor at large of The Atlantic Monthly and the chief editorial advisor of National Journal, was killed on Thursday night while on assignment in Iraq.

Mike was embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division of the US Army. Further details are unknown at the moment.

Michael Kelly in Kuwait City, March 11, 2003.
(Photographs courtesy of ABC News Nightline)

David Bradley, the chairman and owner of Atlantic Media, said "This is the first friend and the best friend I made in journalism. In that quarter of the heart, he can't be touched. He is loved by everyone at The Atlantic, by everyone at the National Journal, by everyone at the places we worked together. The Atlantic has had 145 years of good times and bad, but no moment more deeply sad than this one now. The best we can make of this hour is to surround his wife and children and parents and family with some measure of the love we have for Michael."

Cullen Murphy, the managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly said, "Mike Kelly was a loyal and warm friend, a passionate and courageous advocate, an extraordinary reporter and editor, and above all a profoundly good and generous man. You didn't need to know Mike for long to understand that you could stake your life on all of those qualities. You also couldn't know him long before you came to appreciate his wonderful sense of the preposterous—especially if it involved himself. He saw his profession not as a game but as a public service. I want Mike's boys Tom and Jack to know that their Dad was a hero. His loss is devastating to all of us."

John Fox Sullivan president and group publisher of Atlantic Media, said, "Some people knew Michael as one of this country's most gifted writers and editors. Many knew him as a fiery columnist. I knew him as an honest, funny, caring and even gentle human being. He was one of a kind who will be sorely missed and never forgotten."

Michael Kelly, 46, was until recently the editor in chief of The Atlantic, a position he assumed in 1999. Kelly was embedded with the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, covering the war in Iraq for The Atlantic and for The Washington Post, for whom he wrote a weekly syndicated column.

Mike was no stranger to this story. He was the author of the highly acclaimed book Martyrs' Day (1993), a firsthand account of the first Gulf War, which won the PEN-Martha Albrand award and was included in the notable books listing of The New York Times.

Prior to his arrival at The Atlantic Kelly was the editor of National Journal, from 1998 to 2000, and of The New Republic, from 1996 to 1997. He came to The New Republic from The New Yorker, for which he wrote the Letter from Washington from 1994-1996. In 1992 Kelly covered the presidential campaign for The New York Times. He wrote about the first Gulf War as a freelance correspondent for The New Republic, GQ, and The Boston Globe. His dispatches for The New Republic won a National Magazine Award for reporting and an Overseas Press award, and he expanded his coverage into Martyrs' Day. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Esquire. During the 1980s he worked for Good Morning America, The Cincinnati Post, and The Baltimore Sun.

Kelly graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1979. He leaves behind his wife, Madelyn, and his two sons, Tom, 6, and Jack, 3. He is the son of journalists Tom and Marguerite Kelly of Washington DC.

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For further information please call Julia Rothwax, Director of Media Relations, 646 695-8531.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, memorial donations may be made in Mike's memory to the Tom and Jack Education Fund, c/o Donna Papadopoulos, Sovereign Bank, 495 Paradise Road, Swampscott, MA 01907.

See a list of articles written by Michael Kelly for The Atlantic.

See Michael Kelly's full biography.

See an obituary of Michael Kelly from the June 2003 issue.

See articles written about Michael Kelly since his death.

Copyright © 2003 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.