Christiane Amanpour: TOP TEN BOOKS


Christiane Amanpour Photo: Mark Hill, CNN

“When I report, I have to do it in context, to be aware of the moral conundrum,” Christiane Amanpour told Oprah Winfrey in 2005. “If I’m talking about genocide, for instance, I have to be able to draw a line between victim and aggressor.” The British-Iranian journalist, who leapt to fame during the Bosnian war with her vivid reporting for CNN—part of a tsunami of coverage that almost certainly helped engage intervention by the West—has always seen it as a reporter’s responsibility to shine a spotlight on human rights abuses. Iran’s 1979 Revolution awoke within her a political consciousness that has continued to fuel her travels to some of the world’s darkest conflicts, earning her a morbidly comic tagline among the press: “Where there’s a war, there’s Amanpour.” Throughout her career, she has interviewed world leaders ranging from Bill Clinton to Tony Blair, Robert Mugabe to Muammar Gaddafi, never shying away from putting their feet to the fire.

Below are Christiane Amanpour’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


Peter the Great: His Life and World

Robert Massie
I try to read as much history as possible, and around Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, I devoured this massive tome… and cheekily: I even sent the Russian language version to Vladimir Putin! He’s from St Petersburg and likes to claim Peter the Great’s mantle. The revelation is that Peter was very progressive and Westward-looking. Massie is a fantastic historian-storyteller. I’ve also read his “Catherine the Great,” and of course, “Nicholas and Alexandra.”
Add to cart

The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam

Bao Ninh
As a war correspondent, I have read many of the classic eyewitness accounts. I bought this book when I visited Vietnam in 1997. It’s one of the rare novels about that terrible war written from their perspective by a North Vietnamese student. It’s brutal, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking and desperately human. It’s also vital to remember that as much as the U.S. suffered on all fronts, Vietnam came off far, far worse. This book was first translated and sold in the west, ten years before it could be published in Vietnam.
Add to cart

We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam

Lt. Gen. Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway
The flip side of the “The Sorrow of War,” this book is a brilliant and telling account of one brutal battle in Vietnam from the American perspective. Moore was the commander of soldiers who were airdropped into the jungle, only to be promptly surrounded and massively outnumbered by North Vietnamese troops. The reporter Joseph Galloway had rare access to the troops, witnessing this desperate battle for survival. I love it for the story of heroic journalism. It is why I so admire books like “Once Upon a Distant War,” by William Prochnau, which is the Vietnam war seen through the eyes of legendary correspondents like Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam, Peter Arnett, and others of that generation, providing stark evidence of their courage and fearless contributions to history and truth.
Add to cart

Cry, the Beloved Country

Alan Paton 
The story of a Zulu pastor and his son, set amid the horror of apartheid South Africa. It’s the tragic yet redemptive tale of human dignity, a beautifully woven story of that time. It was written in 1948, and I read it when I was at university in the early 1980s, when South Africa was the big moral story of the time. I longed to be a foreign correspondent and get out there. I also read, and wept through many performances of South African playwright Athol Fugard’s plays. But the images from this book stay with me, as does its amazing title.
Add to cart

Interview with History

Oriana Fallaci
Because I wanted to be her! She remains the greatest political interviewer of all time. I did not agree with her fierce post-9/11 diatribes, but no one can touch her for the fearlessness and deep knowledge she brought to all her important interviews. I wish I had been there when she ripped off her headscarf during an exclusive interview with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini. This book should be required reading for all journalists today! (This title is currently unavailable.)
Currently unavailable

The Good Earth

Pearl S. Buck
I read it in my teens and it hooked me on mysterious China! I love novels about China and its history and culture, especially the story of women; so complex and colorful, and often so twisted, too.
Add to cart

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë
As a school girl this book had an enormous impact on me. It’s not just one of the great works of English fiction, but many describe how it morphs its meaning to suit all seasons of the reader’s life. I read it as a schoolgirl, and the story of the evolving emotions and thoughts of a young girl who reaches womanhood and falls in love with an older man evokes a great romantic love. But on the other hand, the story of his wife, hidden away — descending into madness — caused me frissons of deep fear at the mental illness which was very much the unspoken unknown then, and in my own childhood. At the end of the day it’s an important work for all boys and girls to read, because of its highly developed, complicated and wonderful female heroine.
Add to cart

Black Beauty

Anna Sewell
This was the first real classic I remember reading. It occupied my heart from page one. It’s still with me. The whole panorama of life (yes our human experience too!) can be told through the experience of this magnificent noble beast. Riding was my first sport, horses were my first love. Black Beauty and Ginger were then my favorite fictional characters.
Add to cart

Goodnight Moon

Margaret Wise Brown & Illustrated by Clement Hurd 
Every first time parent knows why! The bliss, the joy!
Add to cart

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou
A deeply personal story of the brutalization of a whole people in the world’s most important democracy. This is the first Angelou book that I read, when I was much younger, and to this day I am unable to compute the breathtaking immorality of her (people’s) circumstances. I still cannot even imagine enduring and surviving that kind of pain and violence and injustice. It is as relevant and important today as ever.
Add to cart