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

Tom plays Phoenix

I'll be speaking next week in Phoenix. Come on down. Here are the details: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 7 p.m. The location is First Amendme

Stop the brass bureaucracy

Tom Ricks’ 2012 book, “The Generals” may be the first book ever written where the most explosive parts come in the acknowledgements, jotted

Steve Coll's 'Unblinking Stare' highlights contradictions in U.S. drone campaign

Officials at the CIA, which operates the unmanned platforms, still argue that the agency is well aware of the laws of armed conflict and fol

Who will the next Sec Def be? I'd rather know who has turned the job down so far

I think the really interesting question about the next secretary of defense isn't who gets it, but how many people turn down the job

Tales of war: Getting 12 approvals for a relatively minor mission in Afghanistan

Here's a striking excerpt from a new book by Michael G. Waltz titled Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret's Battles from Washington to Afghanista

What Was Chuck Hagel’s Biggest Mistake?

His biggest mistake was taking the job. He was working for a White House stuffed with political hacks and obsessed with message. They should

The guys saying Iraq and Syria don’t exist are writing a recipe for a general war (14)

The notion that this process can be managed to American advantage is nonsense. We saw what a comparable effort to redraw boundaries to accom

Why that New York Times story about chemical weapons in Iraq is important

I didn't see what the big deal was about the New York Times story on chemical weapons in Iraq, mainly because in '03-'04 everyone there knew

Doctrine Man speaks: Tom, you magnificent bastard, I read your post!

The Human Dimension White Paper describes what is arguably the most significant institutional challenge we will face in the next generation

Shameful Side of the War on Terror

In “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, sets

Nat Geo's 'American War Generals': A sad tale wrapped around a big contradiction

If this was the greatest army in history, why was it unable to prevail in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Who are the top international-relations specialists?

Surprise! Scholars have a very different view than policymakers do.