Following graduation from Princeton in 1951, Jim Tuck served as a radio correspondent with the First Marine Air Wing in Korea. After a brief and unsatisfying exposure to the Madison Avenue rat race, he made the Big Break in 1958 and ever since has been a self-employed freelance writer.
Tuck’s career can be divided into three parts. From the late fifties till the beginning of the seventies — due to economic necessity — his main area of concentration was in the men’s magazine and exposé field. Having written (mainly under the pseudonym of “Irving O’Malley”) for publications like Confidential, True Adventures, Climax and Whisper, Tuck winces as he recalls titles like “Veracruz — Steaming Port of Call (Girls),” “The Day They Smeared Hitler’s Massacre Battalion,” “How Many Hollywood Playboys are Gay Boys?,” and “I Am the Love Slave of a Voodoo Priestess.” Whenever possible, Tuck turned his attention to the serious writing which was less lucrative, publishing articles in Catholic World, Negro Digest (today Black World ) and several now defunct political and “little” magazines.
All the time Tuck was submitting travel articles and this ushered in the second phase of his career, when travel writing dominated his output. Affiliated with the Fodor Guides in a contributing capacity, Tuck served as a Regional Editor in Mexico between 1970-82 and as Area Editor for Romania between 1978-80. He wrote four original chapters of FODOR’S MEXICO, three of FODOR’S BUDGET MEXICO, and the Romania chapter of FODOR’S EASTERN EUROPE. For his work in Romania, he was awarded a “Diploma of Honour” by the Romanian government. Though this was the hated Ceausescu regime, Tuck points out that in those days Ceausescu was highly popular in the West because of his independent stance vis a vis the Soviet Union. (Among his friends and admirers were Richard Nixon, Pope Paul VI, King Hussein of Jordan and King Beaudoin of Belgium.) Tuck also produced travel material independently of the Fodor affiliation. Ranging from Morocco to China, he published articles in Newsday, the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Houston Chronicle, Detroit News, San Diego Union, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Providence Journal, Orange County Register and Norfolk Ledger-Star.
With the coming of the eighties, Tuck returned to his first love: historical writing. (He majored in history at college.) Beginning in 1982, he published six books of historical nonfiction. The first was a regional analysis of Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion, the second an assessment of Pancho Villa and John Reed as representatives of the romantic tradition in revolution, the third a biography of Karl Radek, leading defendant of the 1937 Stalin Purge Trial, the fourth a study of the relationship between Senator Joe McCarthy and the Hearst press, the fifth an examination of the split in America’s liberal community on the issue of collaboration with Communists and the sixth a focus on clergy who supported Soviet Communism between 1933, the year both Hitler and Roosevelt came to power, and 1953, the year Stalin died. (For full titles and more detailed information, check Jim Tuck’s Home Page.) Particularly gratifying to Tuck were favorable comments about the McCarthy book from Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and Gore Vidal.
Beginning in 1991, Tuck wrote a column of opinion called “lnsight Straight,” which appeared in two Mexico-based English-language publications. In April 1994 “Insight Straight” was syndicated by Continental News Service in San Diego. His grand total of non-book publications (articles, columns, essays, book reviews, etc.) passed the 1,200-mark.
Politically active, Tuck was associated with the liberal anti-Communist Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) since college days, when he served as vice-president of the Princeton chapter of Students for Democratic Action (ADA’s campus affiliate). He founded and served four terms as president of ADA’s only overseas chapter and was a member of ADA’s national board. His book on the McCarthy era was dedicated to the “Tucson Two,” a pair of teachers (both Princeton graduates and personal friends) who lost their jobs during the McCarthy madness. At the time, Tuck was active in a defense committee that unsuccessfully attempted to reverse the dismissal of the “Tucson Two.”
Tuck’s widow, the former María Ruiz, lives in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.