Thomas E. Ricks

ASU Future of War Senior Fellow

Thomas Ricks is an ASU Future of War senior fellow at New America. He also 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.

Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. Until the end of 1999 he had the same beat at the Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for 17 years. He reported on U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was part of a Wall Street Journal team that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2000 for a series of articles on how the U.S. military might change to meet the new demands of the 21st century. The series is posted at:

Ricks also was part of a Washington Post team that won the 2002 Pulitzer prize for reporting about the beginning of the U.S. counteroffensive against terrorism. Those articles are posted at:

He is the author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003-05, which was a number one New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. His second book on that war, The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-08, was published in 2009. He also wrote Making the Corps, which won the Washington Monthly's "Political Book of the Year" award. His first novel, A Soldier's Duty, about the U.S. military intervening in Afghanistan, was published by Random House in June 2001--some four months before the U.S. actually did intervene there. He also has written on defense matters for the Atlantic Monthly and other publications.

His most recent book is The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today. He currently is writing a book about Churchill, Orwell and the 20th century. He currently is in the early stages of a book growing out of the Future of War project examining the military transitions that accompanied the industrial revolution, and the lessons and parallels they might hold for our current transition into the information age.

Born in Massachusetts in 1955, he grew up in New York and Afghanistan and graduated from Yale in 1977. He is married to Mary Catherine Ricks, author of Escape on the Pearl, a history of one of the biggest slave escapes in American history. For recreation he enjoys sailing, sea kayaking, downhill skiing and reading military history.

All Work

100 Notable Books of 2017

Tom Ricks's Churchill & Orwell" named one of the top non-fiction books of the year by the New York Times.

Vince Bzdek: Freedoms in First Amendment rise above Americans' differences

Thomas E. Ricks was mentioned in an article by the Gazette about his new book and the lessons that come from it

What Churchill And Orwell Had In Common: Both Could Say, 'My Side Is Wrong'

Thomas E. Ricks was mentioned in an article by NPR Berlin about his new book

Now is the time for business leaders to dump Trump — for the good of the country

Thomas E. Ricks was mentioned in the Washington Post for his previous article in Politico

General McMaster, Step Down—and Let Trump Be Trump

Thomas E. Ricks wrote for Politico Magazine about members of the Trump administration

Churchill and Orwell

A dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who preserved democracy from the threats of authoritarianism, from the left and rig

Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom

Author Thomas Ricks examines Churchill and Orwell, their similarities and differences, and why their legacies will continue to matter.

Are U.S. Immigration Centers the Next Abu Ghraib?

Thomas Ricks wrote for the New York Times about whether U.S. immigration centers are the next Abu Ghraib.

Trump's Defense Department Pick Threatens Civilian Control Of Military

Tom Ricks joined National Public Radio's Weekend Edition to discuss Trump's inclusion of generals for his Cabinet appointments.

How Is the War on Terror Like the War on Drugs?

The U.S. fight against global terrorism is costly, distracting, self-perpetuating, unceasing, and unresolvable. Is there any way to fix it?

The E.R.: ‘We Fail Better’ Should Not Be the Motto of the U.S. Military

Rosa Brooks, Tom Ricks, and others wrestle with America's recent legacy in the Middle East and what's broken with the last superpower's arme

Finally, Obama gives us the small Afghan war plan we should have pursued in 2001

Last week, I asked a friend what the Afghan war would look like had we gone small in the fall of 2001 — that is, not tried to run the whole