John Willard Toland was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin on June 29, 1912. He received a B. A. from Williams College and attended the Yale University School of Drama from 1936 to 1937. From 1942 to 1949, he served as a captain in Special Services in the Army Air Force, stationed in the United States. His first book, Ships in the Sky, was published in 1957. His other books include Adolf Hitler, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath, and Captured by History. He won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction for The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. He died from pneumonia on January 4, 2004 at the age of 91.