Thom Shanker was raised within the union movement. His father worked as a union newspaper deliveryman, while his mother worked at a clothing factory.
As New York Times Pentagon correspondent, he has extensively reported on overseas military operations. He has made multiple reporting trips to Afghanistan and Iraq where he embedded with units from squad through corps command.
Early Life and Education
Shanker was born and raised in Manhattan and Brooklyn by parents who both worked in union newspapers delivering and knitting factories respectively, informing him early of the need for social change. Following graduation from Columbia University he attempted teaching before organizing teachers as the UFT’s precursor organization in 1952.
Shanker earned praise during New York City’s 1975 financial crisis for successfully averting a five-day strike by convincing Teachers Retirement System trustees to invest $150 million in municipal bonds instead.
Thom Shanker, who covers national security and the Pentagon for The Times, earned a master’s degree from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy with an emphasis on strategic nuclear policy and international law. Together with Eric Schmitt he coauthored Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign against Al Qaeda for New York Times bestseller status.
Thom Shanker has covered national security and foreign policy for The New York Times for nearly 25 years, serving 13 years as Pentagon correspondent during which time. This included covering Department of Defense operations overseas as well as national security policymaking – in this time covering combat operations overseas as well as national security policymaking. He made numerous reporting trips to Afghanistan and Iraq embedded with troops at units from squad to corps level; co-author of Counterstrike: America’s Secret Campaign against Al Qaeda
NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks with Shanker about the threats that keep him awake at night – from diseases that threaten American crops, to low-lying naval bases being submerged due to climate change in a few decades’ time. Also discussed was his new book Age of Danger.
Achievement and Honors
As part of his early activism, Shanker participated in picketing segregated movie theaters and restaurants in Oklahoma City and Brooklyn; worked as a substitute teacher at a South Bronx school to earn money while writing his dissertation at Columbia. Later that same year he was appointed Director of George Washington University’s Project for Media and National Security where he studied strategic nuclear policy and international law; also honored on their Wall of Fame by Oklahoma City Public School Foundations in 2012.
Thom Shanker came from a working-class family, and his experiences as a child convinced him that society needed change. He became active in organized labor, spending 15 days in jail due to his involvement.
He graduated from Stuyvesant High School and went on to obtain his degree in philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while supporting himself by substitute teaching during his graduate degree studies.
Shanker serves as New York Times Pentagon correspondent, regularly embedding with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Together with Eric Schmitt he wrote Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign against Al Qaeda which became a bestseller on New York Times bestseller lists.
Shanker has won several awards throughout his career and is best known as the author of Counterstrike, an eye-opening look into our national security policy management. He currently works for The New York Times as Pentagon correspondent and often spends time embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; previously served as foreign editor at Chicago Tribune covering Yugoslav wars; published The Terrorists’ Own Words that explores terrorist propaganda language; estimated worth estimated at over $3 Million and currently living with wife and three children in Washington D.C.