Sept. 25, 2013
This man who wears many hats—journalist, scholar, best-selling author, and television correspondent, producer and analyst—Peter Bergen began his remarkable journey on a cold December day in Minneapolis, 1962. His family soon thereafter moved to London, perhaps an early omen that Bergen would be traveling a lot throughout his life.
He attended Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, then, in 1981, won an Open Scholarship to New College, Oxford, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Modern History.
With freshly minted academic credentials in hand, Bergen and two friends ventured to Pakistan in 1983 to make a documentary about Afghan refugees fleeing the Soviet invasion of their country. The results were at least twofold: first, the documentary, “Refugees of Faith,” was made and aired in the UK; and, two, Bergen developed an enduring fascination with the people and the politics of the region.
After a stint with ABC News in New York, Bergen returned to Afghanistan to make the documentary “Kingdom of Cocaine�? for CNN. The film was nominated for an Emmy and won the Edward R. Murrow award for best foreign affairs documentary in 1994.
That same year he co-produced, again for CNN, the documentary “Terror Nation�? which traced the links between Afghanistan and the men responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The documentary, which was shot in Afghanistan during its civil war, concluded presciently that the country would be the source of additional anti-Western terrorism.
In 1997 Bergen produced Osama bin Laden’s first television interview, which aired on CNN and in which the terrorist leader declared war against the United States for the first time to a Western audience.
Bin Laden was also the subject of Bergen’s first book, Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Bin Laden, published in 2001 and written while the author was the Pew Journalist in Residence at The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. A New York Times best-seller, the book became the basis for a National Geographic Television documentary that was nominated for an Emmy.
Also Emmy-nominated was the CNN documentary “In the Footsteps of bin Laden�? which was based on Bergen’s second book, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader. The book was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2006 by The Washington Post.
In 2011 Bergen published The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al Qaeda. The book was described by New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani as “that essential book�? for readers interested in a “highly informed, wide-angled, single-volume briefing on the war on terror so far.�? Both a commercial and critical success, The Longest War made the New York Times Best Seller list and was mentioned by both Newsweek and The Guardian as one of the key books about terrorism of the past decade, was picked by Amazon, Kirkus and Foreign Policy as one of the best books of 2011, and won the $30,000 Gold Prize for best book on the Middle East of 2011.
Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad, was published in 2012 and repeated the popular and critical success enjoyed by The Longest War. HBO has produced a documentary to be released in theaters based upon it. The film, for which Bergen is the executive producer is entered in the Sundance Film 2013 competition.
In addition to writing books and producing documentary reports, Bergen has written articles and commentary for just about every major newspaper and news magazine in the United States as well as many in Europe, including the New York Times, the Times (of London), Der Spiegel, and el Mundo.
Currently, in addition to his post as national security analyst for CNN, Bergen is a contributing editor at The New Republic, writes a weekly column for CNN.com, is on the editorial board of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, a leading scholarly journal, and is the editor of the AfPak Channel, a joint publication of Foreign Policy magazine and the New America Foundation [that can be found at www.foreignpolicy.com/afpak].
He is a member of the Homeland Security Project, a successor to the 9/11 Commission, and also of the Aspen Homeland Security Group.
He is married to the documentary director/producer Tresha Mabile.MORE EVENTS »
The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad