Laurence (Larry) Stern was born in June, 1929. His father, August (Gus) Stern, worked in Washington for many years as a copy editor for various local newspapers.
Stern was educated at the University of Missouri and the New School for Social Research in New York before finding work with the United States Information Agency. In 1952 he joined the Washington Post as a reporter on the metropolitan staff.
Over the next few years Stern served as a national reporter. He was especially interested in political corruption. Stern helped to expose the Ling-Temco-Vought and Bobby Baker scandals in the early 1960s. Both these involved Lyndon B. Johnson, who was vice-president at the time. According to fellow journalist, Sterling Seagrave, Stern "was a champion of the underdog" and that this resulted in him having "a lot of enemies in high positions".
Stern also investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Stern did not accept the conclusions of the Warren Commission and Sterling Seagrave claims that Stern discovered "who had been involved" in the killing of Kennedy.
Stern spent two years reporting on the Vietnam War. In the words of his colleague, Richard C. Harwood: "He (Stern) became early in the '70s, The Post's first Dulles Airport correspondent, available day or night to fly anywhere in the world for the big story. The job took him to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos for almost two years, where he observed in combat the collapse of the American effort. He covered the war in Cyprus, reported from the Middle East, from Italy, from London, from Paris, from Greece."
Stern, who eventually became assistant managing editor for national news at the Washington Post, was also the author of The Wrong Horse: The Politics of Intervention and the failure of American Diplomacy (1977).
Larry Stern died on 11th August, 1979. The Washington Post reported: "Stern, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post, was vacationing with old friends - Ward Just, John Newhouse, Jonathan Randal and Jim Hoagland. They played tennis yesterday and then Stern and Newhouse went jogging. As they went running, Stern bent over grabbed his ankle and said he had been stung by a bee. He collapsed. Newhouse gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. It didn't work. Stern was taken to Martha's Vineyard Hospital, but he was dead when he arrived."
However, his friend and colleague, Sterling Seagrave, believes he may have been murdered: "It was postulated that he died from a coronary caused by a blood clot or something, and as I recall there was no autopsy because it was portrayed as a perfectly natural thing to happen. Sometimes when you get a coronary, you feel it first as a sharp pain in some other part of the body. But as you learn from studying snake venoms, neurotoxic venoms from vipers kill you in seconds, while haemotoxic venoms like those from cobras take as much as a minute or longer to travel through your bloodstream from your ankle or calf to your heart. This would obviously be the case with a blood clot. The key here is that Larry (and Norbert Schlei and others I've studied) felt a sting on the ankle, calf or thigh and then fell down dead in a matter of four or five seconds."
In 1979 the Washington Post created the Laurence Stern Fellowship for young journalists from Britain.The first twenty-seven fellows were:- David Leigh, James Naughtie, Penny Chorlton, Ian Black, Mary Ann Sieghart, Lionel Barber, Ewen MacAskill, Sarah Helm, Edward Vulliamy, Adela Gooch, Keith Kendrick, Liz Hunt, Jonathan Freedland, Ian Katz, Rebecca Fowler, Sarah Neville, Gary Younge, Audrey Gillan, Caroline Daniel, Will Woodward, Cathy Newman, Glenda Cooper, Helen Rumbelow, Tania Branigan, Mary Fitzgerald, Sam Coates and Anushka Asthana.