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Thom Shanker

Pentagon Correspondent for The New York Times, Expert on National Security and Counterterrorism

Travels From

District of Columbia



Thom Shanker, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times, routinely spends time embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shanker was formerly a foreign editor and correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, based in Moscow, Berlin, and Sarajevo. He is co-author, with Eric Schmitt, of Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda.
Shanker joined The Times in 1997 as assistant Washington editor, responsible for managing the newspaper’s coverage of foreign policy, national security and economics from the Washington bureau. He was named Pentagon correspondent in May of 2001 and has since then covered military affairs and national security strategy, including efforts at transformation within the Pentagon and the global campaign against terrorism. He embedded with Army Special Forces at Kandahar for the war in Afghanistan, and has also conducted numerous reporting trips to Iraq, embedding in the field with units from the company level through battalion, brigade, division and corps.
Prior to joining The Times, Shanker was foreign editor of the Chicago Tribune. He was the Tribune’s senior European correspondent, based in Berlin, from 1992 to1995, and spent most of that time covering the wars in former Yugoslavia, where he was the first reporter to uncover and write about the Serb campaign of systematic mass rape of Muslim women. He also wrote about European integration, NATO policy, nuclear smuggling and the withdrawal of American, British, French and Russian troops from Berlin following the reunification of the German capital.

As the Tribune’s Moscow bureau chief from 1985 to 1988, Shanker covered the first years of the Gorbachev era as well as issues of superpower arms control. From 1988 to 1990, he was the Tribune’s Pentagon correspondent. Mr. Shanker returned to Moscow from 1990 to 1992 to cover the death of the USSR and the collapse of the communist empire in Eastern Europe. He also spent one year as the foreign and military affairs writer on the Tribune’s editorial board. He has been published in The New York Times Sunday MagazineThe New York Review of BooksThe New Republic, American Journalism Review and Military Review, and contributed to the Norton anthology Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know. He also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Thom Shanker researched and wrote Counterstrike as a writer-in-residence with Eric Schmitt at the Center for a New American Security.
Shanker attended the master’s degree program at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, specializing in strategic nuclear policy and international law, and passing his master’s orals with Highest Honors. He graduated cum laude with a B.A. in political science from Colorado College, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the college in 2004.

Watch Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt in conversation about Counterstrike at The New America Foundation
Visit the Counterstrike book website to learn more
Read The New York Times review of Counterstrike
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Trade Paperback
The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda
St. Martin's Griffin

"Fast paced, gripping . . . [a] well written dive into the arcane world of counterterrorism over the past decade ." —Foreign Policy   In Counterstrike, Eric...


Lessons of the Conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq The Threats from Iran and North Korea Military Affairs, Defense Spending, Counterterrorism, and Cyberwarfare



  • Counterstrike: A Conversation with Thom Shanker


Praise for Counterstrike "Spectacular events such as Osama bin Laden's assassination make headlines, but this book makes a case that intelligence (both tactical and cerebral) leads the battle against international terrorism."
- Kirkus Reviews

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