Glenny was born in Kensington, London, the son of Juliet Mary Crum and Michael Glenny, a Russian studies academic. Glenny described his ancestry as "three-quarters Anglo-Celtic and a quarter Jewish".
He was educated at Magdalen College School in Oxford and studied at the University of Bristol and Prague's Charles University before becoming Central Europe correspondent for The Guardian and later the BBC. He specialised in reporting on the Yugoslav wars in the early 1990s that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia. While at the BBC, Glenny won 1993's Sony Gold Award for his "outstanding contribution to broadcasting". He published three books about Central and Eastern Europe.
In McMafia (2008), he wrote that international organised crime could account for 15% of the world's GDP. Glenny advised the US and some European governments on policy issues and for three years ran an NGO helping with the reconstruction of Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo. Glenny appeared in the documentary film, Raw Opium: Pain, Pleasure, Profits (2011).
Glenny's later books continue an interest in international crime. DarkMarket (2011) concerns cybercrime and the activities of hackers involved in phishing and other activities. Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio (2015) about the leading Brazilian drug trafficker Antônio Francisco Bonfim Lopes (known as "Nem") in Rocinha ("Little farm"), a favela (slum).
From January 2012, Glenny was visiting professor at Columbia University's Harriman Institute, teaching a course on "crime in transition". In an interview in October 2011, he also spoke about his new book, DarkMarket; assessing cybercriminals with Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge; the Stuxnet cyberattack which resulted in "gloves off" attention from governments; and other more recent cyberattacks.
This section lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. (April 2015)
- The Rebirth Of History: Eastern Europe in the Age of Democracy (1991)
- The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War (1992)
- The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, 1804–1999 (1999) ISBN 978-1-77089-273-6
- McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld (2008) ISBN 978-0-09948-125-6
- DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You (2011)
- Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio (2015)
- Putin: Prisoner of Power (2019)
- England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
- Misha Glenny "My family values" Archived 2 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 28 February 2009; retrieved 14 April 2015.
- "McMafia- BBC's latest thriller". Archived from the original on 5 February 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- McMafia: Crime Without Frontiers, The Bodley Head, London, 2008 Archived 20 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 14 April 2015.
- Raw Opium webpage Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Kensington Communications website; retrieved 14 April 2015.
- Aitkenhead, Decca (30 December 2017). "McMafia author Misha Glenny: 'I don't want to be moral. I want to show people the way the world works'". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- Jones, Thomas (1 November 2011). "DarkMarket by Misha Glenny - review". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- Wood, Tony (18 November 2015). "Nemesis by Misha Glenny review – king of the favelas". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
- Glenny, Misha (13 September 2015). "The day I met Rio's favela master: the drug lord who championed the poor". The Observer. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- Speaker bio: Misha Glenny Archived 5 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Govcert.nl; retrieved 14 April 2015.
- "Misha Glenny on his book 'DarkMarket:..." Archived 28 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine (20 m.), Charlie Rose interview, 26 October 2011. Video available; no transcript; details from viewing; retrieved 14 April 2015.
- Szalai, Georg (5 April 2017). "MIPTV: 'Drive' Writer and 'McMafia' Author on Teaming Up for BBC/AMC Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 11 April 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.