Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman will discuss “Education and Global Politics” in a speech at Williams on Thursday, Oct. 17. The lecture will be held at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall.
Recognized widely for his reporting on the Middle East and foreign affairs, Friedman is the author of “The Lexus and the Olive Tree,” which focuses on globalization as the key factor shaping world affairs today. He argues that globalization is not just a phenomenon but rather the international system that evolved in the wake of the Cold War. He views globalization as the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders, creating a single global market and a “global village.”
Friedman began his career in London as a general assignment reporter for United Press International. A year later, he was sent to Beirut, where he remained until he went to The New York Times in 1981. He returned to the United States for a year before being appointed the NYT’s Beirut bureau chief, a post he took up six weeks before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. For the next 26 months, Mr. Friedman covered the events happening around him, including the Sabra and Chatilla massacres, the American embassy and Marine bombings, the P.L.O. split and the Israeli withdrawal from Beirut.
“For the past 20 years, the security zone [in south Lebanon] has been the off-Broadway of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Friedman wrote in 2000. “It was the place where Israel and Syria could fight a proxy war, and let off steam, by killing Lebanese instead of each other. It was a place where the Syrians could keep the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters busy so they wouldn’t shoot at the Syrians in Lebanon. It was the one border where Iran, working through Lebanese guerrillas, could draw Israeli blood. And it was the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon that allowed all the Arab governments to tolerate Syria’s occupation of Lebanon.” Friedman was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his work in Beirut.
In 1984, Friedman was transferred to Jerusalem as Israel bureau chief, where his reporting earned him another Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 1988.
Friedman took a year off in 1988 to write about the Middle East. “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” his book about the decade he spent reporting from the strife-ridden Middle East, was published in 1989, was on The New York Times bestseller list for 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.
In 1989, Friedman became the NYTs’ chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, D.C. Over the next four years, his travels around the world followed then-Secretary of State James Baker and the end of the Cold War. His experience around Washington gave him the expertise needed to take on the appointment of chief White House correspondent in 1992, when he covered the transition to and the first year of the Clinton Administration.
Shifting his focus from politics to economics, Friedman became the newspaper’s international economics correspondent in 1994. A year later, he became the New York Times foreign affairs columnist, only the fifth person to hold the post in the paper’s history and a post he holds today.
His most recent book, “Longitudes and Attitudes,” is a compilation of his post-September 11, 2001 biweekly columns on the news events that have shaped the past year.
In addition, he has provided commentary and a diary of his experiences and reactions during the period of crisis. He has said that the book is “not meant to be a comprehensive study of Sept. 11 and all the factors that went into it. Rather, my hope is that it will constitute a ‘word album’ that captures and preserves the raw, unpolished, emotional and analytical responses that illustrate how I, and others, felt as we tried to grapple with Sept. 11 and its aftermath, as they were unfolding.”
A Minnesota native, Friedman attended Brandeis University, where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in Mediterranean studies. As an undergraduate, he spent semesters abroad in Jerusalem and Cairo. After receiving his B.A., Friedman received a Marshall Scholarship to study at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, where he received his master’s degree in Modern Middle East Studies.