A journalist and author, now living in Baltimore, Robert K. Landers was born in 1944 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in New York City. After graduation from Brown University (Class of 1964), he broke into journalism as a suburban reporter-trainee at The Providence Journal, but his stint there was cut short when he was drafted into the Army in July 1965. After service in Vietnam as an Army "information specialist," he resumed his journalistic career.
Working as a reporter for The New Haven Journal-Courier, he not only learned about "Model City" politics, but also had a ringside seat at the circus of "the 1960s," complete with antiwar demonstrations, radical student uprisings at Yale, and Black Panther murder trials. He subsequently worked as the city editor at The (Torrington) Register, a Northwest Connecticut sister paper to the better-known Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass., and later as a copy editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
As a staff writer from 1986 to 1991 at Congressional Quarterly's Editorial Research Reports (now the CQ Researcher), Landers wrote close to 50 lengthy background reports, based on research and original reporting, and aimed at editorial page editors and libraries. The subjects included the homeless, welfare reform, presidential transitions, the census undercount, opinion polls, think tanks, women and combat, multicultural education, affirmative action, the nurse shortage, independent adoption, DNA "fingerprinting," and the common cold. Some reports challenged the conventional wisdom; some won high praise from noted authorities. Excerpts were often published in newspapers around the country.
As an editor at The Wilson Quarterly from 1991 to 2006, Landers wrote the magazine's distinctive "Periodicals" section, which consisted of "reviews" and surveys of articles from journals and magazines, far and wide. He also edited essays on such subjects as Vietnam since the war, the prospects of an Islamic "reformation," and the history of money and politics.
During his years at The Wilson Quarterly, Landers researched and wrote a biography, "An Honest Writer: The Life and Times of James T. Farrell" (Encounter, 2004). Novelist Farrell (1904-79) is best known for "Studs Lonigan," the classic trilogy about a swaggering young "tough guy" from a lower-middle-class Irish family on Chicago's South Side. The late Hilton Kramer, former chief art critic of The New York Times, called "An Honest Writer" "a first-rate biography." Other published encomiums included: “seminal and clarifying” (ALA’s Booklist), “brilliant” (Commonweal), “superb” (The New Criterion), “splendid” (Quadrant) and “definitive” (Douglas Brinkley).
In more recent years, Landers has been working as a freelance writer, contributing to The Wall Street Journal, Commonweal and other publications.