Stephen Kinzer, a long-time South End resident, will be back at the South End library by popular demand to give us an update about his latest insights, this time into the fraught relationship between the US, Iran and Syria. His irrepressibly independent and thought-provoking assessments of foreign-policy matters are rooted in a distinguished career of reporting and managing several New York Times bureaus in, among other places, Istanbul and Berlin. His weekend op-ed pieces in the Boston Globe always give you something surprising to chew over for the remains of your supposed day of rest. Kinzer, who won Columbia University's Maria Moors Cabot prize for outstanding coverage of Latin America, has reported from more than 50 countries on five continents as a foreign correspondent. The Washington Post described him as "among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling." His two decades working for the New York Times placed him at the center of historic events and, at times, in the line of fire.
When Kinzer was the New York Times bureau chief in Nicaragua in the 1980s, he covered war and upheaval in Central America and wrote two books about the region, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, co-authored with Stephen Schlesinger, and Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, 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." In the 1990s, he was posted in Germany and became chief of the Berlin bureau after German unification, from where he covered the emergence of post-Communist Europe, including wars in the former Yugoslavia.
As chief of the New York Times bureau in Istanbul, Turkey, he traveling widely in Turkey and in the new nations of Central Asia and the Caucasus, after which he wrote Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds. While 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 2006 Kinzer published Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq which describes the 14 times the United States has overthrown foreign governments, 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. Word has it, this book was part of John Kerry's library when he was Secretary of State under the Obama administration. It described, among other events, how the CIA overthrew Iran's elected 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.” Among his later books are The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War and The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire, each of which were the subject of Kinzer's earlier popular talks at the South End library.
After leaving the New York Times, Kinzer taught journalism, political science, and international relations at Northwestern University and Boston University. In addition to writing a world affairs column for The Boston Globe, he is a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.