The Late, Great Robert K. Massie Wrote About American Life

Massie’s feature stories in this magazine spanned a wealth of topics, from gray wolves to Teddy Kennedy to Harlem housing activists.

collage of headlines by Robert K. Massie

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Journalist and historian Robert K. Massie passed away last Monday, December 2nd at 90 years old. Massie was a contributing editor for The Saturday Evening Post throughout the ’60s, writing about international trade, racial integration, and American life. After leaving the Post, Massie focused more on history, and he published biographies of Russian rulers and histories of warships. His book Peter the Great: His Life and World won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981.

Massie’s feature stories in this magazine spanned a wealth of topics, from gray wolves to Teddy Kennedy to Harlem housing activists. In 1965, Massie followed around a Chicago musician named John Perring who also happened to be fighting the Bank of England for an inheritance he claimed to be more than a billion dollars. Perring’s ancestors had been wealthy merchants, as evidenced by old tax documents he unearthed in Michigan, and several twists and turns during his investigation posed new questions about his supposed inheritance. The story, “Please Send One Billion Dollars,” chronicled Perring’s bizarre, fruitless treasure hunt with thoroughness and detailed storytelling signature to Massie’s work.

First page of the Robert K. Massie article, "Please Send One Billion Dollars"
Read “Please Send One Billion Dollars” by Robert K. Massie from the December 4, 1965, issue of the Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Headlines from Robert K. Massie articles that appeared in the Post (©SEPS)

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Comments

  1. Although I’ve heard of Robert K. Massie before, I’d never read anything by him until now. He was an excellent writer as this ‘Billionaire’ tale tells. I’m grateful for the zoom feature to make the print just enough bigger. I don’t think the term/amount of ‘billion’ was often heard in 1965 when our money was actually worth something.

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