An author of both fiction and non-fiction, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1986 work, The Making of the Atomic Bomb. His other notable works include a 2004 biography of the famous nature artist, John James Audubon, and a 2011 book detailing the life and career of actress Hedy Lamarr.
His memoir, A Hole in the World, describes his childhood in Kansas and Missouri with an abusive stepmother (his mother committed suicide when he was a child). He attended Yale University on a full scholarship, graduating with honors in the late 1950s.
He published a Holocaust-themed non-fiction work, Masters of Death, in 2002.
He married Dr. Ginger Rhodes. The couple settled in California and had two children.
He and Craig Flournoy were both 1986 recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.