George Jonas, author and former CBC journalist, dead at 80

Author and columnist George Jonas has died at the age of 80, according to the National Post, which published his work in recent years.

His best known book, Vengeance, inspired a miniseries and Spielberg motion picture

Author and columnist George Jonas has died at the age of 80, according to the National Post, which published his work in recent years.

There were no immediate details about the novelist's death, but the newspaper reported he had been ill for several years.

Jonas's books included Vengeance, an account of five Israelis picked to hunt down and kill those responsible for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The book was adapted into the 2005 film Munich, directed by Steven Spielberg. It had been previously adapted as a Canadian miniseries in the 1980s.

In an article for Maclean's entitled Spielberg's Massacre, Jonas took issue with the Spielberg adaptation, which was nominated for five Academy Awards.

"Spielberg's Munich follows the letter of my book closely enough," Jonas wrote. "The spirit is almost the opposite. Vengeance holds there is a difference between terrorism and counterterrorism; Munich suggests there isn't.

According to his website, the Hungarian-born writer emigrated to Canada in 1956. He went to work for the CBC as a producer and spent over three decades at the public broadcaster.

He collaborated with renowned defence lawyer Edward Greenspan to produce a radio program, then a CBC television show both called Scales of Justice, which recounted famous crimes. He also co-wrote Greenspan's autobiography, Greenspan: The Case for the Defence.

Greenspan had in the 1970s defended convicted murderer Peter Demeter, a case that inspired Jonas co-writing By Persons Unknown: The Strange Death of Christine Demeter, with this then-wife Barbara Amiel. He also wrote a book about motorcycle racing, a passion, as well as plays and a memoir.

Most recently Jonas was a columnist for the National Post, in which colleague Mark Steyn paid tribute to his writing.

"His elegance had a magnificent compression to it," Steyn told the Post.

Jonas was named to the Order of Canada in 2014. The Governor General's website described Jonas's writing as "clever, unafraid and compelling."

With files from CBC News


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