Michael Kelly, 46, First American Journalist to Die

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Michael Kelly, an award-winning journalist and editor of The Atlantic Monthly, died last night
Photo: AP
Michael Kelly, editor of The Atlantic Monthly was the fifth journalist to die in the Iraq war. He was fatally injured in a Humvee accident while traveling with the Third Infantry Division.
in Iraq, where he was an embedded reporter with the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division. He was 46.

Mr. Kelley is the fifth journalist to die in the war and the first American journalist out of the 600 embedded with U.S. troops.

Return to Iraq
By traveling to Iraq to report on the war, Mr. Kelly returned to the turf that launched him into the front ranks of America's journalistic elite. In the aftermath of the first Gulf War, Mr. Kelly, reporting for the Boston Globe, GQ and The New Republic, traveled by foot from Iran to northern Iraq. He then made his way through Kurdish-controlled territory to report on the Iraq-Kurdish conflict, before returning to Baghdad to write on postwar conditions there.

In 1992 he won a National Magazine Award for his war dispatches for The New Republic and the Martha Allbrand award for nonfiction by PEN for his book Martyrs Day: Chronicle of a Small War.

Quick success
After that, his rise was rapid: In 1992 he became a Washington correspondent for The New York Times. In 1994 he became the Washington editor and a columnist for The New Yorker, and in 1996 he was named editor of The New Republic. He left that post over a dispute with the magazine's owner, Martin Peretz, over his writing on the Clinton administration and Vice President

Photo: AP
Tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles of the Third Infantry Division move north near Karbala on April 2. Mr. Kelly was embedded with the unit.
Al Gore. (Mr. Kelly was not fond of Mr. Gore, an opinion he was not particularly shy about expressing.)

He began writing a column for The Washington Post in 1997 and later was named editor in chief of the National Journal and then The Atlantic in 1999.

Last fall he turned over his editorial duties at The Atlantic to Cullen Murphy and stepped down to be an Atlantic editor at large and complete a book project. His plangent essays continued to lead The Atlantic's opening section, The Agenda. His column in the title's current May issue spoke of the "phony peace" period in a war zone just before actual hostilities begin, a time which attracts all manner of activists -- activists that, he noted, tend to disappear as the prospect for actual combat draws nearer.

Revived the 'Atlantic'
While at The Atlantic he grafted a revived journalistic ethic onto a magazine mired in a peculiarly Bostonian strain of genteel academia. Last year the title won three National Magazine Awards, and this year its three-part series by William Langewiesche on the clean-up of the World Trade Center is considered a lock for another. (It was nominated for seven this year, including one for General Excellence.)

Mr. Kelly was born in Washington, D.C., and lived in Boston. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

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