Stephen Kinzer recently spoke to the boys in Hamilton Chapel, sharing some of his stories and perceptions garnered during his many years in journalism. Mr. Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. His articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him “among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling.” He spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, most of it as a foreign correspondent. After leaving the Times in 2005, he taught journalism, political science, and international relations at Northwestern University and Boston University. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, and writes a world affairs column for The Boston Globe.
Mr. Kinzer was introduced by Glenn Harvey, history department chair, and by Sam Atalla ’23. Sam had enjoyed Mr. Kinzer’s book, Overthrow, which was a summer reading book for AP history students, and contacted him, starting a dialogue that eventually led to Mr. Kinzer’s speech at Belmont Hill. “Mr. Kinzer’s work provides a valuable and critical analysis of American history and foreign policy,” Sam told the audience.
The talk spanned several decades of Mr. Kinzer’s career and included lessons learned along the way. He discussed how American foreign policy is formed, and its propensity for short-term solutions that often lead to longer-term problems.
He closed by urging the boys to look beyond the news stories they read about conflicts and to ask critical questions. “Hold yourself apart from mainstream views,” he said. “Try to understand the world as it must look to others. When you’re reading news about what happened today, ask yourself: ‘How did we get here? What happened yesterday? What did this mean? What’s going to happen tomorrow?’”
After his talk, Mr. Kinzer led a discussion in MacPherson.