CHILD OF THE COLD WAR
British embassy, Moscow, 1957
I first went to Russia at the age of six weeks, courtesy of my diplomat parents. Here I am, aged seven, with my mother and younger brother Geoffrey, in the British embassy, opposite the Kremlin, under the watchful eye of the KGB. In one way or another, I have been thinking--and writing--about the Cold War ever since.
I spent much of my journalist career covering the collapse of communism. After a stint in Rome as a correspondent for Reuters, and a tour of Africa, I lived in Yugoslavia during the twilight years of Marshal Tito. In 1980, Tito died, and I moved to Poland, just in time to witness the extraordinary spectacle of workers rebelling against the "workers' state." I was the first western reporter to visit the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk in August 1980 and was standing in front of Boris Yeltsin when he climbed on a tank in August 1991 to face down Communist hardliners. (See photograph below.) In between, I reported on the imposition of martial law in Poland, the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, Gorbachev-Reagan summits, the Tiananmen uprising in China, and the 1989 revolution in Romania.
Other highlights of my journalistic career have included exposing the Soviet atomic spy known as Mlad (Theodore Hall), revealing Madeleine Albright's links to the Holocaust, and covering the Dayton peace negotiations as the diplomatic reporter for The Washington Post. For a change of pace, I was swimming off the southern tip of Sri Lanka in December 2004 when I was almost swept away by the monster tsunami. In 2008, I launched the Post's Fact Checker column.
Since retiring from The Post after the 2008 election, I have focused on researching, writing, and teaching. I spent a year as a visiting journalism professor at the University of Michigan between 2010 and 2011, and will be teaching courses on the Cuban missile crisis at Georgetown and American universities in 2012. I have also been covering the trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. You can see my Foreign Policy blog here.
Author Q and A
"I am interested in hinge moments in history."
"Why I write": Essay for Publishers' Weekly.
I am tweeting and blogging the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis for Foreign Policy. Follow along here.
Thoughts on the collapse of communism and the fall of the Soviet Union, twenty years later.
I am following the Ratko Mladic trial in The Hague for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Not to be confused with
the "other" Michael Dobbs