Kim Ghattas
BBC Journalist, author of THE SECRETARY

Author, journalist, and war child, Kim Ghattas brings a breadth of personal experiences to her talks on politics and world events. She currently covers international affairs out of Washington DC where she has been based since 2008. Kim’s 2020 release Black Wave brings an unprecedented narrative examination of the unraveling of the modern Middle East. She writes a regular column for Foreign Policy magazine focusing on current events. Her recent travels have taken her to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well Iowa, Nevada and Arkansas.


Kim Ghattas is the author of The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Powerthe first inside account to be published about Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. Ghattas traveled around the world with the American Secretary of State while covering the State Department for the BBC from 2008 until 2013. Before that, she was based in the Middle East, where she covered the region extensively from Lebanon, to Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia. In 2006, she was part of an Emmy Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict. Her work has also appeared in TIME magazine, the Boston Globe, NPR, and the Washington Post.


With her in-depth knowledge of the Middle East, Ghattas brings a fresh voice to the debate about American power and foreign policy. Half-Lebanese and half-Dutch, a French and Arabic speaker, she grew up in Beirut during the civil war and witnessed firsthand the impact of foreign policy decisions made in Washington. She has fifteen years of experience as a broadcaster and communicator on television and radio. As a public speaker, her presentations are lively and interactive. She’s equally comfortable giving a speech as she is engaging in a small roundtable conversation, or answering questions from a large audience.

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Black WaveSaudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East

Novelistic and character-driven, Black Wave is an unprecedented and ambitious examination of how the modern Middle East unraveled and why it started with the pivotal year of 1979. Kim Ghattas seamlessly weaves together history, geopolitics, and culture to deliver a gripping read of the largely unexplored story of the rivalry between between Saudi Arabia and Iran, born from the sparks of the 1979 Iranian revolution and fueled by American policy. With vivid story-telling, extensive historical research and on-the-ground reporting, Ghattas dispels accepted truths about a region she calls home

The Secretary A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power

The first inside account to be published about Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, anchored by Ghattas’s own perspective and her quest to understand America’s place in the world.

Middle East current events From the war in Syria and the refugee crisis to Iran's role in the recent nuclear deal, Ghattas tackles today's most pressing issues in the Middle East.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign Ghattas explains what she's uncovered in her reporting for the BBC and for Foreign Policy.

Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Ghattas traveled around the world with the former Secretary of State and can provide an inside look at Clinton's foreign policy.

Life and Resilience in Conflict Born and raised in Beirut on the front lines of the Lebanese civil war, Ghattas shares her personal story of how she overcame adversity.

American Power in the 21st Century

Read Kim Ghatta’s op-ed in The Atlantic on the recent passing of Qassem Soleimani.

Check out a review of her 2020 release Black Wave  in The Times.

The New York Times recently published her op-ed on freedom in Lebanon.

Check out her interview with Women in Foreign Policy.

Read Kim Ghattas’ column on anti-hijab activist Masih Alinejad for Foreign Policy magazine.

Follow her on Twitter and check out her personal website.

Praise for Black Wave “The publication of this book, Black Wave, could not be better timed. In it, Kim Ghattas argues convincingly that the revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979 was one of three events that year that profoundly shaped — or rather misshaped — the Middle East… a fascinating and winding but highly readable tale.”
The Times

“[An] illuminating account of the origins of sectarian violence and the current political shape of the Muslim world… [a] fluid, fast-moving narrative...Essential for all who follow world events.”
Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW)

“Skillfully written and scrupulously researched, Black Wave is an essential book in understanding the origins of the modern conflicts in the Middle East.”
—Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower

"The framing of Black Wave is as important as the content. Kim Ghattas portrays the last four decades across the Middle East as a dark age, a world dimmed behind a curtain of violence, misogyny, and religious extremism. In exploring how this blackness came to be, she recalls a brighter past and predicts a better future. It's a powerful and important book."
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of the New America Foundation and former Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State

“Kim Ghattas is a superb writer and reporter, which makes Black Wave an accessible and very interesting account of the sectarian schism and regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia that has riven the Middle East for decades and is one of the most consequential contests threatening global security.”
—Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt

"An artful, gripping, timely, and humane account of the roots and consequences of the destructive rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia from one of the region's most insightful and incisive observers."
—Ambassador William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former Deputy Secretary of State

“A well-researched and highly readable primer on the rivalry between Shias and Sunnis shaping today’s Middle East. Kim Ghattas masterfully traces the origins of sectarianism in the explosive rise of Islamic fundamentalism in 1979 and the destructive Saudi-Iranian rivalry that followed. Told through the experiences of those who lived and shaped sectarianism, Black Wave is both gripping and informative; a must read for anyone interested in understanding the forces shaping the Middle East today.”
—Vali Nasr, professor of international affairs and Middle East politics at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and author of Shia Revival

“Clear-eyed and honest, perfectly researched and brilliantly written, a unique book that is about more than the Saudi-Iran rivalry as it illuminates how and why the region began to turn inward over the last 100 years—a must read for outsiders and people in the region.”
—Marwan Muasher, Vice President for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former minister of foreign affairs of Jordan

"Black Wave is a brilliant piece of work. Ghattas reveals how the competition between Tehran and Riyadh, instigated in 1979 by the Iranian revolution and the siege of Mecca—and intensified after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq—led to the instrumentalization of Islam to destroy cosmopolitanism, to force women to veil, and to mobilize sectarian extremists."
—Emma Sky, senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute and author of In a Time of Monsters

Praise for The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power “A terrific book...Our first intimate portrait of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and a riveting personal story....Compelling...A page-turner.”
—Joe Klein, Time columnist

“Reading The Secretary is as close as anyone can get to flying around the world with Hillary Clinton over the past four years. Kim Ghattas has captured many colorful details not only about people and places but also about the urgency, exhaustion, and turn-on-a-dime responses necessary to stay one step ahead of the world. She gives us an up-close-and-personal look at the exercise of American power.”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor, Princeton University, and former Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State

“Poignant and gripping...The story of two women from different generations and cultures, yet bound by a common passion, one that transcends geographical and political boundaries, reminding us not just of our differences but of our shared humanity. In all her roles, Hillary Clinton has always been motivated by a desire to change the world but has also been prepared to be changed by it. In her exchanges with Clinton, Ghattas is also prepared to change and be changed, and through her attempts to know Clinton she also comes to better know herself, turning this book into a powerful journey of discovery and self-discovery.”
—Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

“An unusually intimate look at a historic secretary of state...An unexpected page-turner.”
—Celia McGee, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton becomes the face of a superpower in this captivating profile... [Ghattas's] perceptive reportage on Clinton's personal leadership grounds a shrewd analysis of America's role as the still-indispensable nation.”
Publishers Weekly

“[An] engaging look at U.S. diplomacy under Hillary Clinton...Ghattas presents a close-up look at the touchiest of diplomatic issues in the first Obama administration, from the Arab Spring uprisings to WikiLeaks...a rich portrait of the different perspectives on U.S. power and influence around the world as well as her own personal experiences and ambivalence about the U.S.”
—Vanessa Bush, Booklist (starred review)