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Thomas Friedman

(1953 - )

Thomas Friedman was born in Minneapolis on July 20, 1953. After finishing high school in Minneapolis, he attended Brandeis University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1975 with a degree in Mediterranean Studies. During his undergraduate years, he spent semesters abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the American University in Cairo. After completing his B.A., Mr. Friedman attended St. Antony's College, Oxford University, on a Marshall Scholarship. In 1978, he received a Masters degree in Modern Middle East Studies from Oxford and immediately thereafter joined the London Bureau of United Press International (UPI).

Mr. Friedman spent a year in London doing general assignment reporting before being dispatched to Beirut as a UPI correspondent. He lived in Beirut from June 1979 to May 1981, when he was hired by the New York Times and brought back to New York. From May 1981 to April 1982, Mr. Friedman worked as a general assignment financial reporter for the New York Times, based in New York. He specialized in OPEC and oil-related news. In April 1982, he was assigned by the New York Times to be its Beirut Bureau Chief, a post he took up six weeks before the Israeli invasion.

In June 1984, Mr. Friedman was transferred to Jerusalem, where he served as the Times' Israel Bureau Chief until February 1988, when he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to write a book about his reflections on the Middle East. In June 1989, he published From Beirut to Jerusalem, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly 12 months and won the 1989 National Book Award for non-fiction and the 1989 Overseas Press Club Award for the Best Book on Foreign Policy. From Beirut to Jerusalem has been published in more than 20 languages, including Japanese and Chinese, and is now used as a basic textbook on the Middle East in many high schools and universities.

In January 1989, Mr. Friedman accepted a new assignment in Washington as the Time's Chief Diplomatic Correspondent. For the next four years he traveled some 500,000 miles covering Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d and the end of the cold war. In November 1992, Mr. Friedman shifted to domestic politics and was appointed Chief White House correspondent. He covered the transition and first year of the Clinton Administration. In January 1994, Mr. Friedman shifted again, this time to economics and became the Times' international economics correspondent, covering the nexus between foreign policy and trade policy.

In January 1995, Mr. Friedman became the New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist. In 1998, Mr. Friedman wrote the text to accompany Micha Bar-Am’s photographs for the book, Israel: A Photobiography, published by Simon and Schuster. His book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, issued by Farrar Straus and Giroux in 1999, won the Overseas Press Club Award for best nonfiction book on foreign policy in 2000. Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11, his most recent book, was published by FSG in 2002.

For his coverage of the Middle East, Mr. Friedman was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Lebanon) and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Israel). He was awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary for “his clarity of vision…in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat.”

Mr. Friedman lives in Bethesda, Md., with his wife, Ann, and their two daughters. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Brandeis University and a member of the Advisory Board of the Marshall Scholarship Commission. Mr. Friedman served as a Visiting Professor at Harvard in 2000 and has been awarded honorary degrees from Brandeis, Macalester, Haverford and Hebrew Union College.

Sources: Thomas Friedman and the New York Times