Gideon Rachman

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Gideon Rachman
Gideon Rachman.jpg
Gideon Rachman at the Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum at the congress centre in Davos, Switzerland, January 2012
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
AwardsOrwell Prize for Journalism

Gideon Rachman (born 1963) is a British journalist. He became the chief foreign affairs commentator of the Financial Times in July 2006. In 2016, he won the Orwell prize for political journalism.[1] In the same year, he was named commentator of the year at the European Press Prize awards.[2]

Life and career[edit]

He was born in England, son of Jewish South Africans, but spent some of his childhood in South Africa. His uncle, Ronnie Hope, was news editor at The Jerusalem Post.[3] He read History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, gaining a first class honours degree from Cambridge University in 1984. While at Gonville and Caius, he was a friend of future MI6 renegade agent Richard Tomlinson, whom he provided with a reference for his Kennedy Scholarship application.[4]

He began his career with the BBC World Service in 1984. From 1988 to 1990, he was a reporter for The Sunday Correspondent, based in Washington DC.

He spent 15 years at The Economist; first as its deputy American editor, then as its South-east Asia correspondent from a base in Bangkok. He then served as The Economist's Asia editor before taking on the post of Britain editor from 1997 to 2000, following which he was posted in Brussels where he penned the Charlemagne European-affairs column.

At The Financial Times, Rachman writes on international politics, with a particular stress on American foreign policy, the European Union and geopolitics in Asia.

Gideon Rachman maintains a blog on the FT site.[5] His brother is Tom Rachman, the author of the novel The Imperfectionists. Their sister, Emily, died of breast cancer in 2012.[6]


Rachman is noted for advocating a looser, non-federal European Union. In 2002, he staged a debate in Prospect magazine with Nick Clegg, who was then an MEP for the East Midlands. Clegg argued strongly that Britain should join the European single currency. Rachman disagreed, writing, "I believe the political changes involved in joining the Euro carry enormous risks. I do not believe it is 'progressive' or 'self-confident' to take those risks."[7] More recently, Rachman has argued in the FT that the EU must take a flexible and open approach to the political demands of their member states or face failure.[8] However, during the UK referendum on EU membership, Rachman argued for the UK to vote to stay inside the EU – arguing that the organisation, although flawed, was an important guardian of democratic values and security in Europe. Rachman was also one of the first commentators to predict that the UK would vote to leave the EU.[9]

Rachman has a strong interest in East Asia and the rise of China, and has repeatedly[10][11] warned that inflexibility on the part of both China and the USA may lead to conflict. He has also often focussed on the challenges to US power around the world.[12]

Rachman twice endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency and has defended his foreign policy. He has also been sceptical of the case for intervention in Syria.[13]


In August 2016, Rachman published a book entitled Easternisation - War and Peace in the Asian Century. The book argues that 500 years of Western domination of global politics is coming to an end as the result of the rise of new powers in Asia. It focussed on the threat of conflict between the US and China, America's eroding global position and rivalries between China and its neighbours. The book was called "masterly" by the Sunday Times[14] and "superb" by the Daily Telegraph. Yale historian, Paul Kennedy, said – "This is truly one of those works you can say you wished our political leaders would read and ponder its great implications."

Rachman's first book, Zero-Sum World was published in 2010 in the UK. It was published under the title Zero-Sum Future in the US and translated into seven languages, including Chinese, German and Korean.[15] The book was part history and part prediction. It argued that the thirty years from 1978–2008 had been shaped by a shared embrace of globalisation by the world's major powers that had created a "win-win world", leading to greater peace and prosperity. Rachman predicted that the financial and economic crisis that began in 2008 would lead to a zero-sum world, characterised by increasing tensions between the world's major powers. The New York Times praised the book as "perhaps the best one-volume account now available of the huge post-Communist spread of personal freedom and economic prosperity."[16]


As well as winning the Orwell and European Press Prize awards, Rachman was named foreign commentator of the year in Britain's comment awards in 2010.[17] The Observer has also listed him as one of Britain's 300 leading intellectuals.[18] He has been a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University (1988–89) and at the Nobel Institute in Oslo (2013).


  1. ^ "The Orwell Foundation". The Orwell Prize.
  2. ^ "Homepage". European Press Prize.
  3. ^ Zatman, Alex. "LUCK HELPS GIDEON TO SUMMIT OF JOURNALISM". Jewish Telegraph. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  4. ^ Gideon Rachman (14 February 2008). "My friend, the renegade spy". Financial Times.
  5. ^ "Gideon Rachman". Financial Times.
  6. ^ "How I mourned my sister through the books she left behind". Washington Post. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  7. ^ Nick Clegg: Is joining the euro still too big a risk for Britain?, Prospect (20 January 2002). Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  8. ^ "If Europe cannot bend it will break". Financial Times. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times.
  10. ^ "China is sailing into a sea of troubles". Financial Times. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  11. ^ "The ideas that divide China and America". Financial Times. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  12. ^ "A global test of American power". Financial Times. 12 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  14. ^ Fenby, Review by Jonathan (31 July 2016). "Books: Easternisation: War and Peace in the Asian Century by Gideon Rachman" – via
  15. ^ "Zero-Sum World, By Gideon Rachman". The Independent. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  16. ^ Diminished Expectations, by Scott Malcolmson, New York Times, 28 January 2011. (review of Zero-Sum Future)
  17. ^ "Gideon Rachman". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  18. ^ Naughton, John (7 May 2011). "Britain's top 300 intellectuals". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 28 November 2019.

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