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Alexander Cockburn


Alexander Cockburn, The Nation‘s "Beat the Devil" columnist and one of America’s best-known radical journalists, was born in Scotland and grew up in Ireland. He graduated from Oxford in 1963 with a degree in English literature and language.

After two years as an editor at the Times Literary Supplement, he worked at the New Left Review and The New Statesman, and co-edited two Penguin volumes, on trade unions and on the student movement.

A permanent resident of the United States since 1973, Cockburn wrote for many years for The Village Voice about the press and politics. Since then he has contributed to many publications including The New York Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly and the Wall Street Journal (where he had a regular column from 1980 to 1990), as well as alternative publications such as In These Times and the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

He has written "Beat the Devil" since 1984.

He is co-editor, with Jeffrey St Clair, of the newsletter and radical website CounterPunch( which have a substantial world audience. In 1987 he published a best-selling collection of essays, Corruptions of Empire, and two years later co-wrote, with Susanna Hecht, The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers, and Defenders of the Amazon (both Verso). In 1995 Verso also published his diary of the late 80s, early 90s and the fall of Communism, The Golden Age Is In Us. With Ken Silverstein he wrote Washington Babylon; with Jeffrey St. Clair he has written or coedited several books including: Whiteout, The CIA, Drugs and the Press; The Politics of Anti-Semitism; Imperial Crusades; Al Gore, A User’s Manual; Five Days That Shook the World; and A Dime’s Worth of Difference, about the two-party system in America.



  • Environment February 23, 2006

    Quail in War and Peace

    Bobwhite quail have little to cheer about these days, their numbers depleted and habitats ravaged by hunters like the Vice President and his pals.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • Covert Ops February 9, 2006

    How Not to Spot a Terrorist

    The NSA's use of artificial intelligence for "data-mining" surveillance is not only constitutionally illegal, but a technological fantasy. Why aren't the Democrats challenging it?

    Alexander Cockburn

  • Ethical Economics January 26, 2006

    Nick Kristof’s Brothel Problem

    Nicholas Kristof produces a steady stream of titillating reports on child prostitution in the Third World. Better to focus on draconian economic reforms driven by the World Bank that create the conditions for prostitution.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • World January 12, 2006

    The FBI and Edward Said

    The FBI was probably tapping Edward Said's phone right up until the day he died. Details are emerging of a surveillance effort that extended for nearly thirty years.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • Politics December 21, 2005

    The Year of Vanished Credibility

    2005 added up to this: No credibility for the President, or for the Democrats, or for the New York Times, which took a year to figure out whether the Constitution is worth fighting for. 2006 should be exciting.

    Alexander Cockburn

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  • Covert Ops December 8, 2005

    All the News That’s Fit to Buy

    Bush brings a robust simplicity to the business of news management: Where possible, buy journalists to turn out favorable stories. And if you think you can get away with it, shoot them or blow them up.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • Politics November 23, 2005

    The Truth About the War

    The truth about the Iraq war may be clear to John Murtha and 60 percent of the American people, but not to the three Democratic senators interested in becoming President in 2008.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • Arms Spending November 10, 2005

    First the Lying, Then the Pardon

    Shades of Iran/contra: Since the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Washington is abuzz about presidential pardons. If officials who violate the law and lie about it know with certainty the will escape legal sanction, we no longer have a government.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • Politics October 27, 2005

    Final Days: Only 39 Months to Go

    On Capitol Hill there's open warfare among various factions of the Republican Party. With midterm elections looming and Bush's approval ratings tumbling, the collapse of discipline will only accelerate amid the general panic.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • October 20, 2005



    Cambridge, Mass.

    Alexander Cockburn and Our Readers