One of the few Westerners to interview Osama bin Laden face-to-face, Peter Bergen is a print and television journalist, documentary producer, and the author of four books, three of which were New York Times bestsellers and three of which were named books of the year by the Washington Post. The books have been translated into twenty languages. He is the director of the national security studies program at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C.; a fellow at Fordham University’s Center on National Security and CNN’s national security analyst. He has held teaching positions at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
His most recent book, a New York Times bestseller, is Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad. The book is being translated into nine languages and HBO has produced a theatrical release documentary based upon it. The film, for which Bergen is the executive producer, was in the Sundance Film 2013 competition and won the Emmy award for Best Documentary. The Washington Post, named Manhunt one of the best non-fiction books of 2012 and The Guardian named it one of the key books on Islamist extremism. The Sunday Times (UK) named it the best current affairs book of 2012 and The Times (UK) named it one of the best non-fiction books of 2012. The book was awarded the Overseas Press Club Cornelius Ryan award for best non-fiction book of 2012 on international affairs.
His 2011 New York Times bestseller, was The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda. New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani writes, “For readers interested in a highly informed, wide-angled, single-volume briefing on the war on terror so far, “The Longest War” is clearly that essential book.” Tom Ricks also writing in the Times described the book as “stunning.” Longest War won the $30,000 Gold Prize for best book on the Middle East of 2011 from the Washington Institute. Newsweek and the Guardian named Longest War as one of the key books about terrorism of the past decade. And Amazon, Kirkus and Foreign Policy named Longest War as one of the best books of 2011.
His previous book was The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader (Free Press, 2006). It was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2006 by The Washington Post. “The Osama bin Laden I Know” was translated into French, Spanish and Polish, and CNN produced a two hour documentary, “In the Footsteps of bin Laden,” based on the book. Bergen was one of the producers of the CNN documentary, which was named the best documentary of 2006 by the Society of Professional Journalists and was nominated for an Emmy.
Bergen is also the author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Bin Laden, (Free Press, 2001). Holy War, Inc. was a New York Times bestseller, has been translated into eighteen languages and was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2001 by The Washington Post. A documentary based on Holy War, Inc., which aired on National Geographic Television, was nominated for an Emmy in 2002. Bergen was the recipient of the 2000 Leonard Silk Journalism Fellowship and was the Pew Journalist in Residence at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in 2001 while writing Holy War, Inc.
Bergen has reported on al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, Pakistan, counterterrorism, homeland security and countries around the Middle East for a range of American newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, TIME, The Nation, The National Interest, Mother Jones, Newsweek, Washington Times and Vanity Fair. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and writes a weekly column for CNN.com. His story on extraordinary rendition for Mother Jones was part of a package of stories nominated for a 2008 National Magazine Award. He has also written for newspapers and magazines around the world such as The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, International Herald Tribune, Prospect, El Mundo, La Repubblica, The National, Der Spiegel and Die Welt. And he has worked as a correspondent or producer for multiple documentaries that have aired on National Geographic, Discovery and CNN.
Bergen is on the editorial board of Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, a leading scholarly journal in the field, and has testified before multiple congressional committees about Afghanistan, Pakistan and terrorism issues. 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 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. The AfPak Channel was nominated in 2011 for a National Magazine Award for Best Online Department.
Talibanistan: Negotiating the Borders Between Terror, Politics and Religion is a collections of essays about the Taliban that Bergen edited with Katherine Tiedemann that was published by Oxford University Press in January 2013.
In 1997, as a producer for CNN, Bergen produced bin Laden’s first television interview, in which he declared war against the United States for the first time to a Western audience. In 1994 he won the Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow award for best foreign affairs documentary for the CNN program “Kingdom of Cocaine,” which was also nominated for an Emmy. Bergen co-produced the CNN documentary Terror Nation which traced the links between Afghanistan and the bombers who attacked the World Trade Center for the first time in 1993. The documentary, which was shot in Afghanistan during the civil war there and aired in 1994, concluded that the country would be the source of additional anti-Western terrorism. From 1998 to 1999 Bergen worked as a correspondent-producer for CNN. He was program editor for “CNN Impact,” a co-production of CNN and TIME, from 1997 to 1998.
Previously he worked for CNN as a producer on a wide variety of international and U.S. national stories. From 1985 to 1990 he worked for ABC News in New York. In 1983 he traveled to Pakistan for the first time with two friends to make a documentary about the Afghan refugees fleeing the Soviet invasion of their country. The subsequent documentary, Refugees of Faith, was shown on Channel 4 (UK).
Bergen has a M.A. in Modern History from New College, Oxford University. He won an Open Scholarship when he went up to New College in 1981. Before that he attended Ampleforth. He was born in Minneapolis in 1962 and was raised in London. He is married to the documentary director/producer Tresha Mabile.