An award-winning American historian and fiction writer, he published close to eighty novels and numerous short stories. His works include The Shanghai Bund Murders (1933), Eagle in the Sky (1948), and Emperor's Gold (1933).
He served as an ambulance driver in World War I, and then joined the French Army as an artilleryman. He published his first short story, The Fetish of Sergeant M’Gourra, in 1928.
He served as President Eisenhower's Chief Historian.
He was born to a wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1928, he married Dorothy L. MacReady, a New York socialite.
He was a contemporary of John Steinbeck, who wrote Of Mice and Men.