Thomas Edwin Ricks is an American journalist and author born in Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1955. The biography Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks was released in May 2017. Learn more about the author and his book through a short biography, and discover ratings and reviews on the book.
Thomas E. Ricks is an adviser on national security at the New America Foundation, where he participates in its “Future of War” project.
He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting as part of teams from the Wall Street Journal (2000) and Washington Post (2002). He was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006), which was number one New York Times bestseller.
Thomas grew up in New York and Afghanistan. He studied at Yale University. After earning a B.A., he worked as an instructor at Lingnan College, Hong Kong (1977–1979), and assistant editor at the Wilson Quarterly (1979–1981).
Then, as a reporter, he covered U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Between 1982 and 1985, he worked for the Wall Street Journal, writing, conjointly with other journalists, the Price of Power series discussing United States defense spending and potential changes confronting the US military following the Cold War. The series won the Journal the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. The second Pulitzer Prize he won in 2002 was for reporting about the beginnings of the U.S. counteroffensive against terrorism.
Thomas E. Ricks is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the blog The Best Defense, which was named the best blog of the year by the American Society of Magazine Editors in 2010, as well as the best military blog by Military Reporters & Editors.
He is the author of several other books, including The Generals (2012), The Gamble (2009), and A Soldier’s Duty (2001).
Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom is already a bestseller in UK History.
A dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who preserved democracy from the threats of authoritarianism, from the left and right alike.
Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930’s—Orwell shot in the neck in a trench line in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill struck by a car in New York City. If they’d died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time, Churchill was a politician on the outs, his loyalty to his class and party suspect. Orwell was a mildly successful novelist, to put it generously. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century they would be considered two of the most important people in British history for having the vision and courage to campaign tirelessly, in words and in deeds, against the totalitarian threat from both the left and the right. In a crucial moment, they responded first by seeking the facts of the matter, seeing through the lies and obfuscations, and then they acted on their beliefs. Together, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they kept the West’s compass set toward freedom as its due north.
It’s not easy to recall now how lonely a position both men once occupied. By the late 1930’s, democracy was discredited in many circles, and authoritarian rulers were everywhere in the ascent. There were some who decried the scourge of communism, but saw in Hitler and Mussolini “men we could do business with,” if not in fact saviors. And there were others who saw the Nazi and fascist threat as malign, but tended to view communism as the path to salvation. Churchill and Orwell, on the other hand, had the foresight to see clearly that the issue was human freedom—that whatever its coloration, a government that denied its people basic freedoms was a totalitarian menace and had to be resisted.
In the end, Churchill and Orwell proved their age’s necessary men. The glorious climax of Churchill and Orwell is the work they both did in the decade of the 1940’s to triumph over freedom’s enemies. And though Churchill played the larger role in the defeat of Hitler and the Axis, Orwell’s reckoning with the menace of authoritarian rule in Animal Farm and 1984 would define the stakes of the Cold War for its 50-year course, and continues to give inspiration to fighters for freedom to this day. Taken together, in Thomas E. Ricks’s masterful hands, their lives are a beautiful testament to the power of moral conviction, and to the courage it can take to stay true to it, through thick and thin.