Howard W. French

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For the British newspaper editor, see Howard French (UK journalist).
Howard French
Born Howard Waring French
(1957-10-14) October 14, 1957 (age 59)
Washington, DC
Occupation journalist, author, photographer, Columbia University professor
Notable credit(s) The New York Times; A Continent for the Taking (book)
Spouse(s) Agnès French

Howard Waring French (born 1957) is a journalist, author, and photographer, as well as a research scholar at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to entering academia, he was a senior foreign correspondent with The New York Times.


French was a university instructor in the Ivory Coast in the 1980s before becoming a reporter. He has reported extensively on the political affairs of Western and Central Africa. These reports were the basis for the book A Continent for the Taking.

French has also reported on the political and social affairs in China, where he covered on the growth of civil society, government crackdown of dissent in the Dongzhou protests of 2005, and the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. His most recent work for The New York Times is centered on China where he was the paper's Shanghai bureau chief.

French was New York Times bureau chief for the Caribbean and Central America from 1990 to 1994; he covered Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and numerous other countries.

From 1994 to 1998, French covered West and Central Africa for the Times, reporting on wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Central Africa, with particular attention to the fall of the longtime dictator of Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko.

From 1998 to 2003, French was Tokyo Bureau Chief for the Times, covering Japan and the Koreas.

In addition to his native English, French is fluent in Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese.[1] He became Tokyo bureau chief for the Times in 1999, after a year studying Japanese at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. He is presently collaborating with The New York Review of Books and he also contributes frequently to The Atlantic.

In addition to covering China as Shanghai Bureau Chief for the Times, French worked as a weekly columnist on regional affairs for The International Herald Tribune. French is the author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa, which was published in 2004 by Alfred A. Knopf, and of China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa, published by Knopf in 2014. French is an internationally exhibited documentary photographer, whose multi-year project called "Disappearing Shanghai", photographing the rapidly shrinking old quarters of Shanghai, was shown in Asia, Europe and the United States. A book containing this work, Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life, was published in 2012, in collaboration with the novelist and poet Qiu Xiaolong.[2]


1999 Jefferson Fellow, East-West Society, Honolulu, Hawaii

2011 Open Societies Foundation fellow


2004 Honorary Doctorate - University of Maryland, for commentary on East Asia


  1. ^ Davies, Dave (May 27, 2014). "China Turns To Africa For Resources, Jobs And Future Customers". Fresh Air |transcripturl= missing title (help). 1:10 minutes in. NPR. 
  2. ^ French, Howard W. (photography); Xiaolong, Qiu (poetry) (2012). Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life (1st ed.). Homa & Sekey Books. ISBN 1931907811. 

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