Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. His articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him “among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling.”

Kinzer spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, most of it as a foreign correspondent. His foreign postings placed him at the center of historic events and, at times, in the line of fire.

From 1983 to 1989, Kinzer was the New York Times bureau chief in Nicaragua.  In that post he covered war and upheaval in Central America. He also wrote two books about the region. One of them, co-authored with Stephen Schlesinger, is Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala.  The other one, Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, is a social and political portrait that the New Yorker called “impressive for the refinement of its writing and also the breadth of its subject matter.” ColumbiaUniversity awarded Kinzer its Maria Moors Cabot prize for outstanding coverage of Latin America.

From 1990 to 1996 Kinzer was posted in Germany.  He was chief of the New York Times bureau in Bonn, and after German unification became chief of the Berlin bureau. From there he covered the emergence of post-Communist Europe, including wars in the former Yugoslavia.

In 1996 Kinzer was named chief of the newly opened New York Times bureau in Istanbul, Turkey.  He spent four years there, traveling widely in Turkey and in the new nations of Central Asia and the Caucasus.  After completing this assignment, Kinzer published Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds.

In 2006 Kinzer published Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.  It recounts the 14 times the United States has overthrown foreign governments.  Kinzer seeks to explain why these interventions were carried out and what their long-term effects have been. He has made several trips to Iran, and is the author of All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror.  It tells how the CIA overthrew Iran’s nationalist government in 1953.

Kinzer wrote about Africa in his book A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa called it “a fascinating account of a near-miracle unfolding before our very eyes.” In 2010 Kinzer published Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future, which Huffington Post called “a bold exercise in reimagining the United States’ big links in the Middle East.”

Kinzer’s next book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, was widely praised.  Reviewers called it sparkling, riveting, gripping, bracing, and disturbing.  The Wall Street Journal called it a “fluently written, ingeniously researched, thrillerish work of popular history.”

In 2017 Kinzer published The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire.  It describes America’s first great debate over military intervention abroad.

After leaving the Times in 2005, Kinzer taught journalism, political science, and international relations at Northwestern University and Boston University.  He is now a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, and writes a world affairs column for The Boston Globe. While posted in Turkey, Kinzer hosted the country’s first radio show devoted to blues music.  He is the author of the entry on Jelly Roll Morton in The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge.

In 2008 Kinzer was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.  The citation said that “those of us who have had the pleasure of hearing his lectures or talking to him informally will probably never see the world in the same way again.”

The University of Scranton awarded Kinzer an honorary doctorate in 2010.  “Where there has been turmoil in the world and history has shifted, Stephen Kinzer has been there,” the citation said.  “Neither bullets, bombs nor beating could dull his sharp determination to bring injustice and strife to light.”


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14 Responses

  1. Rose Bellitzia
    Rose Bellitzia at | | Reply

    You might be interested in Peter Dale Scott reading from his “Coming To Jakarta” poem/book. He grew up with the Dulles brothers and discussed them in these videos made by one of his graduate students. They are posted here on Twitter:

    I’m relishing your interview on Coast to Coast!

    Also, Cromwell defended Oliver North during the October Surprise hearings.

  2. Ric Behrendt
    Ric Behrendt at | | Reply

    Enjoyed your comments on Coast to Coast this A.M. After I graduated from US Army Intell School, I served in Korea for 20 months and 20 days (1960 to Aug 1962) I am currently writing a history of what I did and what I know for my daughter and grand-daughters. It stands to reason that after the cease fire in 53, we just had to get involved in Vietnam. I saw in the summer of 61 ships stacked up in a line in Pusan unloading ammo and arms. A Coastie told us (myself and a Spec. Opns Agent) that this is going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  3. paul mann
    paul mann at | | Reply

    I really enjoyed your interview on Coast to Coast last night….it was enlightening and informative…keep up the great work in exposing the governments to the people.

  4. Russell Barclay
    Russell Barclay at | | Reply

    Well done. Thanks. If you ever get down Kentucky way, let us know. We’ll put on the feedbag for you and yours.

    Barclay, Visiting Prof. Campbellsville University

  5. Rev. Tom Glasoe
    Rev. Tom Glasoe at | | Reply

    Mr. Kinzer,
    I just finished reading The Brothers and enjoyed it immensely.
    I felt compelled to write you to share with you that though I never met the two Dulles brothers, how my life began was directly impacted by their foreign policies.

    I was born on an unknown street of Saigon, Vietnam a week after the Vietnam War ended and was abandoned soon afterwards. I lived in three orphanages until coming to the United States at eight years old.

    I have wanted to know for all of my adult life how the US became involved in Vietnam initially and under what rationale.

    Thank you again for giving me a window into that period of American history and some of the reasons behind Vietnam.

    Happy Thanksgiving.
    Tom Glasoe

  6. Mary O'NEill-Barrett
    Mary O'NEill-Barrett at | | Reply

    I recently saw your appearance on BookTV regarding your book about the Dulles Brothers.

    Would you accept an invitation to appear at our library…as part of our Newport Public Library Books and Authors Series.

    Our series runs on Saturdays between 2-3 {or 1-2 if the author so selects.}

    We are located in Newport, RI

    Please let me know your thoughts on this invitation.

    I have booked people thru March 2014 so your event—you are welcome to sell/sign you book/books.—-would be between April 1st and

    June 30th.

    Thank you for your time


    Mary O’Neill-Barrett, program coordinator NPL

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  8. Nelson Reyneri
    Nelson Reyneri at | | Reply

    Your interview with Terry Gross (he History of U.S. Intervention And The ‘Birth Of The American Empire) should be required reading/listening for everyone in America. As we enter a time when definitions and facts are increasingly muddled, thank you for being a voice of reason and basing your arguments on historical (and not alternative) facts.
    Thank you for your continued leadership,
    Nelson Reyneri

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