Joshua Kurlantzick is the author of The Ideal Man (2011). A senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Kurlantzick was most recently a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he studied Southeast Asian politics and economics and China's relations with Southeast Asia, including Chinese investment, aid, and diplomacy. Previously, he was a fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy and a fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Kurlantzick has also served as a columnist for Time, a special correspondent for the New Republic, a senior correspondent for the American Prospect, and a contributing writer for Mother Jones. He also serves on the editorial board of Current History.

He is the winner of the Luce Scholarship for journalism in Asia and was selected as a finalist for the Osborn Elliot prize for journalism in Asia. His first book, Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power Is Transforming the World, was nominated for CFR's 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award. He is the author of the recently published book Democracy in Retreat.

Kurlantzick received his BA in political science from Haverford College. 

His newest book, A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA, is published by Simon & Schuster (January, 2017). 

Click here to listen to Josh discuss his book with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air. And here to listen to his interview with NPR's Parallels. 



"Kurlantzick’s engrossing book, “A Great Place to Have a War,” titled after one old C.I.A. hand’s sardonic remark, is a sobering account of the American engagement in Laos and timely reading today." 
– New York Times Book Review

"One puts the book down with a deeper, richer understanding of this sordid chapter in the history of American interventionism."
Washington Post

"[T]he war’s entire compelling tale can be found in the lucid prose and revelatory reporting of Joshua Kurlantzick’s new book, 'A Great Place to Have a War'."
The Economist

"In this important book, Kurlantzick writes in excruciating detail how the decisions by Eisenhower and Kennedy would turn the CIA from a spy organization to one whose primary role was covert warfare, involving the agency in ever-more controversial actions across the world..." 
Asia Sentinel
"Accurate and informative." –Wall Street Journal
“Kurlantzick provides a more complete picture using declassified CIA histories. He also analyzes how the conflict heralded the agency's support of clandestine, paramilitary operations around the world as a virtual arm of the U.S. armed forces, still characteristic of its role today. [A] brisk narrative.”
Associated Press

“This riveting read belongs in the pantheon of works such as Jane Hamilton-Merritt’s Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secrets Wars for Laos, 1942-1992, and William M. LeoGrande’s Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992. Highly recommended….”
Library Journal (starred review)

"Kurlantzick's comprehensive account provides new insights into the CIA's objectives in the Laos war and the way that they were incorporated into its broader mission."

"[A] timely new book...Kurlantzick’s book benefits from contemporaneous CIA accounts of the operation, which have since been declassified...What makes A Great Place to Have a War such a valuable contribution is Kurlantzick’s account of how the CIA itself was changed by the Secret War...his important new book lays the groundwork for a fresh examination."
Washington Monthly

"In this excellent historical analysis, Kurlantzick (State Capitalism), a Southeast Asia specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, relates how the U.S. got involved with Laos, seeing it as a vital piece in the strategy of containing communism in Southeast Asia." 
– Publishers Weekly

"Kurlantzick, a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at US think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations, has timed his book well. As the region waits nervously for the impact of President Donald Trump’s administration, Kurlantzick brings out the chaos wrought by a previous era of great power proxy struggles, civil war in Vietnam and genocide in Cambodia. . . . A Great Place to Have a War is a reminder of how much US history in this conflict-scarred region still bubbles beneath the surface — and awaits a proper reckoning."
Financial Times

:This eminently well-written and well-researched book deserves deep reflection and wide readership. From moral and human perspectives, the book makes chilling reading. The challenge today is not to hark back to some mystical past to make America great again, but rather to make America great at last." –Forbes



"Joshua Kurlantzick has written a sad, evocative tale of an American voyager who conquers a strange land only to be lost in it, caught between cultures and his own demons. The Ideal Man will appeal to readers of Graham Greene and The Ugly American, but it's also a timeless story of innocence and knowing too much."
-- Evan Thomas, author of Sea of Thunder and The War Lovers

"Here is a more troubled and troubling Jim Thompson than we have previously encountered: the silk king enters the heart of darkness. After narrating the ultimate Asia hand's unrequited love affair with Thailand, this remarkable book makes Thompson's legendary and still unsolved disappearance at the height of the Cold War seem almost inevitable."
-- Duncan McCargo, author of Tearing Apart the Land