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 Beruit 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 1988. After being 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 Best Sellers 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. 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).
In January 1989, Mr. Friedman accepted a new assignment in Washington as The Times’ Chief Diplomatic Correspondent. For the next four years he traveled some 500,000 miles covering Secretary of State James A. Baker III 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, Friedman shifted again, this time to economics, and became The Times' International Economic 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 text to accompany Micha Bar-Am’s photographs for the book, Israel: A Photobiography, published by Simon & 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. It has been published in 27 foreign languages. FSG published his bestseller, Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11, in 2002 and his international bestseller, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century, in 2005.
His latest bestseller, Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America, was published in September 2008. He currently is writing a book with Michael Mandelbaum, to be published in September of 2011, about the major challenges facing the United States, the reason the country is not addressing those challenges effectively, and the policies America needs to adopt to ensure prosperity at home and strength abroad in the 21st century. The title will be That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World We Invented and How We Can Come Back.
In the months following 9/11, his Op-Ed page coumn for The New York Times provided the clarifying, evenhanded assessments that were so urgently sought. In awarding him his third Pulitzer Prize (the 2002 award for Distinguished Commentary), the Pulitzer Board cited “his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat.”
In 2004 Friedman was also awarded the Overseas Press Club Award for lifetime achievement as well as the honorary title, Order of the British Empire (OBE), by Queen Elizabeth II. The Wall Street Journal ranked Friedman the second most influential business thinker in 2008 and U.S News and World Report named him one of “America’s Best Leaders.”
Mr. Friedman is a frequent guest on programs such as Meet The Press,Morning Joe and Charlie Rose. His TV documentaries, Searching for the Roots of 9/11, The Other Side of Outsourcing, Straddling the Fence and Addicted to Oil, have aired on the Discovery Channel.
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, since 2005, the Board of the Pulitzer Prizes. He served as a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University in 2000 and 2005 and has been awarded honorary degrees from Brandeis University, Macalester College, Haverford University, the University of Minnesota, Williams College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Washington University in St. Louis and Hebrew Union College.