Glass, Charles 1951-

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Glass, Charles 1951-


Born 1951, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Charles Glass; married; wife's name Fiona (divorced); children: five. Education: University of Southern California, B.A.; Attended American University in Beirut, Lebanon. Religion: Catholic.


Home—London, England. Office—P.O. Box 8308, London, W11 2WX England. Agent—Tina Bennett, Janklow and Nesbit Associates, 445 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022-2606; Georgina Capel, Capel & Company, Wardour St., Soho, London, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, filmmaker, broadcaster, and journalist. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC), journalist, beginning 1973, served as correspondent in Beirut, Lebanon, Middle East consultant, became chief Middle East correspondent, 1983-93; Cable News Network (CNN), overseas and investigative correspondent; freelance journalist, 1993—.


Overseas Press Club award; Commonwealth Award; George Foster Peabody Award.


Tribes with Flags: A Dangerous Passage through the Chaos of the Middle East, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Money for Old Rope: Disorderly Compositions, Picador (London, England), 1992.

The Northern Front: A Wartime Diary, Saqi Books (San Francisco, CA), 2006.

The Tribes Triumphant: Return Journey to the Middle East, HarperPress (London, England), 2006.

Correspondent, Newsweek and the Observer (England). Contributor to periodicals and newspapers, including Time, Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Daily News, New Statesman, Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, American Conservative, Granta, London Magazine, Guardian (England), Independent, Independent on Sunday, Daily Telegraph (England), and Sunday Telegraph (England).

Producer of documentary films, including Pity the Nation: Charles Glass's Lebanon; Iraq: Enemies of the State; Stains of War; The Forgotten Faithful; Edward Said: The Last Interview; and Our Man in Cairo.

Frontline Club Newsletter, books editor.


Middle East correspondent Charles Glass is author of Tribes with Flags: A Dangerous Passage through the Chaos of the Middle East, in which he recounts a journey that was interrupted when he was taken hostage by Shiite Muslim terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon. Glass, an American of Lebanese and Irish descent, describes his book as a "literary and spiritual ramble through the history of a troubled land," according to J.F.O. McAllister in Time. The author began his travels in Alexandretta, Turkey, and intended to journey through Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, ending in Aqaba, Jordan. In Tribes with Flags, Glass gives his detailed impressions of the Middle East while providing some history of the conflict-riddled region. Glass asserts that Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Iraq are "tribes with flags" rather than nation-states. "Try as big powers might to control them with armies, navies and imported ideologies, the ties of ‘family, village, tribe, and sect’ have been much tougher," wrote McAllister. In addition, Glass describes his sixty-two days as a hostage in Beirut—where he was kidnapped while riding in a car with the son of Lebanon's defense minister—and his daring escape past sleeping guards.

"The result," Peter Partner related in the New York Review of Books, "is a mixed kind of book, with long, leisurely passages on the Middle East scene and the mentalities of its inhabitants, and taut, tense reporting of Glass's experiences in the dangerous and brutalized world of present-day Lebanon." Though some reviewers wished Tribes with Flags included more history and political analysis of the Middle East, others considered the book to be informative and engaging. Partner, for example, commented that once in Lebanon, "Glass is in the place he knows best, and in which his great enterprise and skill as a reporter are evident. He moves with confidence and knowledge in the mosaic of Lebanese factions, and everything he says about them is enlightening." And in New Statesman and Society, Tariq Ali called Tribes with Flags "a lively and intelligent account of everyday life in parts of the Arab world."

Glass revealed his inspiration for creating Tribes with Flags to Jenny Landey in Interview: "I thought it would be a good idea to make one continuous journey through the area and write about it in a way that I wasn't able to do as a journalist reporting on little bits all the time. It's a nonpolitical ramble through the area, in which ideally you as the reader will learn more by meeting people along the way than by just reading a political analysis."

In The Northern Front: A Wartime Diary, Glass provides a detailed description of the Iraq war from the perspective of Kurdish territory in Northern Iraq. He describes the tedium of the reporter's life in Iraq, long stretches of boredom, routine reporting, and cancelled meetings punctuated by the immediacy of a breaking story. Soon, however, Glass and other reporters realize that the heart of the story is elsewhere, and they must take the risks necessary to go find it. Throughout his narrative, Glass describes his own chaotic personal life, his personal opposition to the war, his mistaken reliance on the discredited Ahmad Chalabi, and more. Glass also explains in detail the fine points of Iraqi politics and the many organizations and political groups that function within the barely contained turmoil. As a veteran war reporter and Middle East correspondent, Glass "does bring a unique perspective to the story" of the Iraq war, observed Richard Beeston in Spectator. Glass's effort combines "fine reporting, essential history, and sharp commentary," remarked Brian Palmer in Entertainment Weekly.

Glass returns to the subjects of Tribes with Flags in The Tribes Triumphant: Return Journey to the Middle East. Glass picks up his story of the history and politics of the Middle East, returning to tell the "political story of the Middle East through its cramped topography," remarked Spectator reviewer James Buchan. Glass offers a travelogue of observations on changes that have taken place since his first book and on the current state of the countries he visited earlier. He accounts for events such as the Oslo Accords, which gave Palestinians statehood but did not stop the creation of more Israeli settlements on Palestinian land; the second intifada, or uprising, that occurred in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 2000; and the 2001 attacks on the United States and the subsequent military action in Afghanistan. Glass includes a number of lengthy interviews with numerous subjects, informed by the fact that he is "one of very few Americans in the Middle East to listen to what is said to him," Buchan observed. The author looks at the state of affairs in Aquab, Amman, and Petra; describes the difficulties of crossing Israeli borders; finds out about the difficulties of living in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; explores the role of Jordan in the area; and meets and describes numerous personalities, from soft-drink sellers to nuns, from Palestinian terrorists to Jewish settlers, from prime ministers to rank-and-file patriots. "The effect is to show that neither Arab nor Jew has a monopoly of humanity, incompetence, and villainy" as they try to navigate difficult lives in often inhospitable territory, Buchan noted.



Books, June, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags: A Dangerous Passage through the Chaos of the Middle East, p. 6.

Bookwatch, June, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 7.

Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 1990, Scott Pendleton, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 14.

Economist, May 12, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 90.

Entertainment Weekly, January 26, 2007, Brian Palmer, review of The Northern Front: A Wartime Diary, p. 79.

Interview, April, 1990, Jenny Landey, interview with Charles Glass, p. 30.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 239.

Library Journal, April 1, 1990, David P. Snier, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 127.

New Statesman and Society, June 29, 1990, Tariq Ali, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 41.

New Yorker, July 16, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 86.

New York Review of Books, July 19, 1990, Peter Partner, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 25.

New York Times Book Review, April 15, 1990, Conor Cruise O'Brien, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 8.

Observer, June 24, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 51.

People Weekly, September 7, 1987, "Newsman Charles Glass Relives His Sixty-two Days of Terror as Hostage in Beirut," p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, February 16, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 62.

Spectator, June 30, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 42; May 27, 2006, James Buchan, "Geography Is Destiny," review of The Tribes Triumphant: Return Journey to the Middle East; October 28, 2006, Richard Beeston, "Fretting on the Touchline," review of The Northern Front.

Time, May 14, 1990, J.F.O. McAllister, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 90.

Time Canada, May 14, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 92.

Times Literary Supplement, June 29, 1990, Roger Owen, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 687.

Washington Post Book World, April 15, 1990, review of Tribes with Flags, p. 1.


Charles Glass Home Page, (November 19, 2007).

Harper Perennial Web site, (November 19, 2007), biography of Charles Glass.