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If you like Nicholas Kristof's story, you might also like:
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Charles Kuralt,
Greg Mortenson,
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Nicholas Kristof
Nicholas Kristof
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Nicholas Kristof Biography

Journalist, Author & Columnist

Nicholas Kristof Date of birth: April 27, 1959

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  Nicholas Kristof

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Nicholas Donabet Kristof was born in Yamhill, Oregon. His father, Ladis Kristof, was an ethnic Armenian from the Carpathian region of Europe, born in a district that changed hands from Austria-Hungary to Romania to the Soviet Union and Ukraine over the course of the 20th century. In the United States, Ladis Kristof became a professor of political science, specializing in Eastern Europe; Nicholas Kristof's mother was a professor of art history. The Kristofs owned a small cherry farm outside Yamhill, and Nicholas Kristof worked the farm with his parents. Although his parents set high standards for academic achievement, by his own account, the local schools Nicholas Kristof attended were less than demanding.

Young Kristof discovered his love for journalism editing his junior high school newspaper. In high school, he began working for a local paper, the McMinnville News-Register, and impressed the older reporters with his professionalism and precocious writing ability. After graduating form high school, he took a year off to serve as a state officer of the Future Farmers of America before entering Harvard.

At Harvard, Kristof was a major force in the daily newspaper The Crimson. Between terms, he completed an internship at The Washington Post. Despite his journalistic activities, he graduated in only three years, earning Phi Beta Kappa honors, and won a Rhodes Scholarship to study law at Oxford University. Kristof earned first class honors at Oxford, but he was increasingly eager to see the world and pursue a journalistic career. On his first vacation, he headed to Poland. When the communist government of Poland declared martial law to suppress the Solidarity labor movement, Kristof contacted The Washington Post and began filing stories. On another vacation, he backpacked across Africa, writing articles to support his travels. After completing his law degree at Oxford, he considered returning to the United States to continue his legal studies, but instead decided to study Arabic at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Returning to the United States, he joined The New York Times as an economics correspondent in 1984, reporting from Los Angeles, and then Tokyo.

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In Los Angeles, he had dated a young Wall Street Journal reporter, Sheryl WuDunn. When they were both assigned to Hong Kong, the relationship became more serious and they were soon married. Not long after, Ms. WuDunn was also hired by The New York Times, and the couple moved to Beijing where they covered the burgeoning democracy movement, exemplified by massive demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. When the Chinese government sent in the army to disperse the demonstrators, Kristof rushed to the center of the action. The couple's reporting on the violent suppression of the dissidents earned them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. They are the first married couple ever to share this prize. They recounted their experience of China at length in their 1994 book China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power.

Having served as The New York Times bureau chief in Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo, Kristof and WuDunn published a second book of reflections on their observations, Thunder From the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia (2000).

In 2000, after covering the presidential campaign of Texas Governor George W. Bush, Kristof took the post of associate managing editor of the Times, responsible for the paper's popular and voluminous Sunday edition. In 2001, following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, he was given his own opinion column, which appears twice weekly, on the "Op-Ed" page, facing the paper's editorial page.

Kristof has used his column to illuminate international issues of human rights, global health, poverty and gender inequality, crisscrossing the globe to investigate these situations firsthand. To date, he has lived on four continents and visited 140 countries, all 50 states of the union, every province in China, and every island in Japan. He has also been at least twice to every country on President Bush's "axis of evil" list: Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

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In 2003, Kristof ignited a national scandal by discrediting the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein's government had tried to buy uranium in Africa. A later column disclosed that the administration had rebuffed overtures from Iran to normalize relations and give up nuclear weapons development.

Kristof has written dozens of columns about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and visited the area numerous times. In 2006, Kristof won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary "for his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world." He has received every other honor in American journalism, including the George Polk Award and the award of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Since 2006, The New York Times has held the "Win a Trip With Nick Kristof" essay contest, offering college students and high school teachers the opportunity to join Kristof on assignment in Africa. Kristof and his wife are now at work on a book about women in the developing world. When he is not on the road, Nicholas Kristof lives in Scarsdale, New York with his wife Sheryl and their three children.

This page last revised on Sep 17, 2008 15:10 EDT
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