Jacques Lanzmann was born to a Jewish family in Bois-Colombes, France. In 1934, following the divorce of his parents, he and his older brother Claude Lanzmann and their sister Évelyne (later Rey) went to live with their father in Brioude, in the Auvergne region. During the first years of the Nazi Occupation of France in World War II, when he was 12 years old, he worked for a while as a farmhand. In 1943, he joined Claude and their father in the Resistance. Jacques was arrested in Aix-en-Provence and sentenced to death by firing squad, but managed to escape. After the war, he moved to Paris and became a painter. In the late 1940s-early 1950s, he traveled around the world, doing odd jobs, and lived for a while in Chile as a copper miner. The manuscript of a novel he had written, La glace est rompue (The Ice Is Broken), was given by Claude to his mentors Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and published in 1954. Jacques' second novel, Le Rat d'Amérique (1956), inspired by his experiences in Chile, was a commercial success and led to him being offered as job as literary critic for the Communist magazine Les Lettres françaises, edited by Louis Aragon. He was sent by the magazine to the Soviet Union to report on the literary scene there. On his return, he wrote the novel Cuir de Russe (1957), depicting the extreme poverty he had witnessed, and was promptly expelled from the French Communist Party. In 1959, he wrote the first of a dozen film screenplays, the comedy Le Travail c'est la liberté (Work and Freedom), and became a journalist for L'Express. In 1963, with Daniel Filipacchi, he co-founded Lui, a new men's magazine, and served as its editor. In the mid-1960s, he worked with singer-composer Jacques Dutronc on the lyrics of songs that made him famous; he went on to write songs for a number of other artists, including Johnny Hallyday, Françoise Hardy, and Petula Clark. After leaving Lui in 1968, Lanzmann co-founded the publishing company, Les Editions Spéciales with Jean-Claude Lattès, later renamed JC Lattès, and subsequently founded the firm Jacques Lanzmann et Seghers Editeurs. In the 1970s, Lanzmann wrote a number of bestsellers and won the prestigious Prix RTL Grand Public in 1977 for his novel Le Têtard. His last book, Une vie de famille (A Family Life), appeared in 2006, shortly before his death.