Andrew Cockburn

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Andrew Cockburn
Andrew Myles Cockburn

(1947-01-07) 7 January 1947 (age 73)
London, England
(m. 1977)
Children3, including Olivia Wilde
Parent(s)Claud Cockburn
Patricia Cockburn

Andrew Myles Cockburn[1] (/ˈkbɜːrn/ KOH-burn; born 7 January 1947) is a London-born journalist and the Washington, D.C., editor of Harper's Magazine.

Early life[edit]

Born in London in 1947, Cockburn grew up in County Cork, Ireland. His father was Communist author and journalist Claud Cockburn. His mother, Patricia Evangeline Anne (née Arbuthnot), was the granddaughter of British colonial administrator Henry Arthur Blake and British politician George Arbuthnot; she had written an autobiography, Figure of Eight.[2] Cockburn is a descendant of British-Jewish Whig politician and actor Ralph Bernal (1783–1854).[3][4] Cockburn was educated at Glenalmond College, Perthshire, and Worcester College, Oxford.


Cockburn has written numerous books and articles, principally about national security. He has also produced numerous documentary films, principally in partnership with Leslie Cockburn, as well as co-produced the 1997 thriller The Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman, for DreamWorks. After an early career in British newspapers and television, he moved to the United States in 1979. His film The Red Army, produced for PBS in 1981, was the first in-depth report on the serious deficiencies of Soviet military power and won a Peabody Award. In 1982, he published the book The Threat – Inside the Soviet Military Machine (Random House), which examined the same topic in greater depth. He subsequently published many articles on the subject of US and Soviet military power as well as lecturing at numerous military bases, foreign policy forums, and colleges and innumerable television shows. The collapse of the Soviet Union, and subsequent revelation that his analysis of the Soviet military had been entirely correct rendered his subject otiose. He then began covering middle eastern subjects, including the 1991 documentary on the after-effects of the first Gulf war, The War We Left Behind, which he co-produced for PBS with Leslie Cockburn.

In 2009 he and Leslie Cockburn produced American Casino, a feature-length documentary on the financial crisis of 2007–2008. New Yorker critic David Denby called it "A terrific documentary... Everything is connected: the movie embodies chaos theory for social pessimists." Apart from his books he has written for National Geographic, the Los Angeles Times, the London Review of Books, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, Harper's Magazine, CounterPunch, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times, and the Dungarvan Observer. He is Washington Editor of Harper's Magazine.

In 2007, Cockburn wrote Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy (subtitled An American Disaster in the UK edition). In The New York Times, reviewer Jacob Heilbrunn called it "perceptive and engrossing." He is also known for writing "21st Century Slaves" for National Geographic. It was a groundbreaking article that shed light on the practice of modern-day slavery. Most recently, he authored Kill Chain – The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. (2015) The book details the evolution of drone warfare, and the shift to assassination as the principal US military strategy. Kirkus Review called it "sharp-eyed and disturbing."

Personal life[edit]

The Cockburns are related to Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet, who ordered the Burning of Washington in 1814.[5] He has two brothers, Alexander Cockburn (1941–2012) and Patrick Cockburn, also journalists, and two half-sisters. One sister, Sarah, was best known as the mystery writer Sarah Caudwell. The other sister, Claudia, was a disability activist and married Michael Flanders, half of the well-known performance double-act Flanders and Swann; the two children of this marriage are the journalists Laura Flanders and Stephanie Flanders, his half-nieces.

In 1977, he married Leslie Corkhill Redlich in San Francisco. Together they have three children, Chloe Frances Cockburn, actress Olivia Wilde, and Charles Philip Cockburn.[6]



  • Cockburn, Andrew (1983). The threat : inside the Soviet military machine. New York: Random House.
  • Cockburn, Andrew (with Leslie Cockburn) (1991). Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship, HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-016444-1
  • Cockburn, Andrew (with Leslie Cockburn) (1997). One Point Safe, Doubleday ISBN 0-385-48560-3
  • Cockburn, Andrew (with Patrick Cockburn) (1999). Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein, HarperCollins Publishers Hc, ISBN 0-06-019266-6
  • Cockburn, Andrew (with Patrick Cockburn) (2002). Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession, Verso, ISBN 1-85984-422-7
  • Cockburn, Andrew (2007). Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy, Scribner, ISBN 1-4165-3574-8
  • Cockburn, Andrew (2015). Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 9780805099263

Essays and reporting[edit]

  • Cockburn, Andrew (January 2018). "Swap meet : Wall Street's war on the Volcker Rule". Letter from Washington. Harper's Magazine. 336 (2012): 37–43.
  • Cockburn, Andrew, "Like a Ball of Fire: Andrew Cockburn on hypersonic weaponry", London Review of Books, vol. 42, no. 5 (5 March 2020), pp. 31–32. "'Welcome to the world of strategic analysis, where we program weapons that don't work to meet threats that don't exist.' This was what Ivan Selin, a senior Pentagon official, used to tell subordinates in the Defence Department in the 1960s." (p. 31.) Cockburn recounts impracticable-weapons projects, including Russia's Avangard "hypersonic glide missile", Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" project, the US's 1951 nuclear-powered-bomber project, and the US's 1950s Dyna-Soar "boost-glide"-weapon project suggested by Walter Dornberger, a favorite of Hitler's who had overseen the V2 rocket program. "[T]he US and Russia have both taken Selin's axiom a step further: they mean to deploy a weapon that doesn't work against a threat that doesn't exist that was in turn developed to counter an equally non-existent threat." (p. 32.)


  1. ^ "Andrew Myles Cockburn". The Peerage. 22 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Patricia Evangeline Anne Arbuthnot". The Peerage. 22 July 2012.
  3. ^ Smalley, George Washburn; Escott, Thomas Hay Sweet (1904). Society in the New Reign. T.F. Unwin. pp. xii, 128, 145.
  4. ^ Cockburn, Claud (1981). Cockburn Sums Up: An Autobiography. Quartet Books. p. 135. ISBN 0704322668.
  5. ^ Sarah Booth Conroy (25 August 1991). "New Memories of an Old Flame". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 120.

External links[edit]