The Martin Family Journalism Torch Is Passed

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Bradley Martin, left and his son, Alexander.

Bradley Martin, left and his son, Alexander.

I’ll never forget trying to get into Afghanistan in January 1980 after the Soviets had invaded. Like some other journos, I went up to Peshawar, Pakistan, the last city before the Khyber Pass, and then hitched a ride with a stoned Scottish truck driver up to the border at Torkham. The border was closed, and the last American correspondent who had gotten through was: Bradley Martin of the Baltimore Sun. I thought to myself, “he must be a hell of a guy.”

Turns out he was. He and his wife, Hideko Takayama, became good friends when my wife and I were transferred to Beijing for United Press International in 1981. Hideko gave birth to a baby boy, Alexander. When we went to the Martin home, Bradley would bounce the young one up and down on his knee while singing. Bradley went on to work for the Asian Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and Bloomberg in Tokyo.

Recently, more than 30 years after watching Alexander being bounced up and down, I saw a byline pop up in The Wall Street Journal — Alexander Martin. I immediately dug up Bradley’s e-mail and ask whether it is the same Alexander Martin. “That is indeed the same lad but I doubt you’d want to bobble him on your knee these days,” the elder Martin answered. He must be as nearly as big as his father, who is a man of some consideration. Dow Jones hired Alexander after he had spent five years at the Japan Times, the English-language newspaper. Dow Jones is merging its various bureaus so Alexander works for the newswire and for the Journal at the same time.

As to what the elder Martin is doing, he left his last full-time news job Bloomberg in Tokyo in 2009 but has continued to freelance. He had a teaching gig in Alaska for a year or so but has now relocated to Hawaii. “I like the idea of completely changing careers every 20 or 30 years,” Martin wrote. “Takes me longer and longer to write simple pieces due mainly to boredom. Been there, done that.”

Having written extensively on North Korea, he particularly enjoys writing North Korean analysis pieces for Global Post and he is finishing a novel called Nuclear Blues, set in North Korea and with a journalist protagonist. His wife Susan Rose Stanga (they were married in 2007), is a novelist and works with Bradley on plot development. They divide the year between homes at Lake Nojiri in Nagano, Japan and Naalehu, Hawaii. Bradley intends to begin reporting on Hawaii that could conceivably lead to another book, either fiction or nonfiction.

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