As CNN’s chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour is one of the most visible and well-respected journalists in the field. After first making a name for herself covering the 1991 Persian Gulf War, she rose to fame as a leading war reporter that’s traveled to every major conflict zone in the world, interviewed countless global power players, and earned every major television journalism award.

In a foreword to Zahra Hankir’s 2019 book Our Women on the Ground – a collection of essays by female Arab journalists reporting on their homeland – Amanpour wrote on the importance of hearing stories through the lens of local women:

“As professional journalists we must continue to nurture, encourage, support, protect, and fight for those who make this choice. We must also make sure more women are among their ranks, because without them the stories of today and tomorrow will remain only partly told.”

Sharing ten of her favorite books with One Grand, Amanpour selected stories of war, women, heartbreak and humanity. Find her reading list below.


Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie (also rec’d by Brian Eno & Laurie Anderson)

“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.'” -CA

The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam by 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, heartbreaking 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, 10 years before it could be published in Vietnam.” -CA

We Were Soldiers Once… and Young: The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by 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.” -CA

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (also rec’d by Bill Nye)

“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.” -CA

Interview with History by 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!” -CA

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (also rec’d by Grimes)

“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.” -CA

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (also rec’d by Jane Goodall, Rose McGowan, Stacey Abrams, Stevie Nicks & Ursula K. Le Guin)

“As a schoolgirl 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. 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.” -CA

Black Beauty by 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.” -CA

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (also rec’d by Michelle Obama)

“Every first time parent knows why! The bliss, the joy!” -CA

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (also rec’d by Angie Thomas, Colin KaepernickGlennon DoyleJanet MockRichard Branson & Shonda Rhimes)

“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.” -CA

(via One Grand Books)

Categories: Writers

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