Before turning full-time author, he was an ITN reporter and newscaster for two years, the New York correspondent of Lord Beaverbrook's Daily Express, and then worked for nearly twenty years on The Times; five as its chief reporter, and latterly as a Middle East and Far East specialist. In the 1950s, he edited the West African news magazine Drum, sister paper to the South African Drum. Before entering Fleet Street, he served as a subaltern in the King's African Rifles – in the same battalion as Lance-Corporal Idi Amin, later to emerge as a Ugandan tyrant.
No stranger to misadventure, Hopkirk was twice held in secret-police cells – in Cuba and the Middle East – and was also hijacked by Arab terrorists. His works have been translated – officially – into fourteen languages, and unofficial versions in local languages are apt to appear in the bazaars of Central Asia. In 1999, he was awarded the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal for his writing and travels by the Royal Society for Asian Affairs.
Hopkirk's wife Kathleen wrote A Traveller's Companion to Central Asia, published by John Murray in 1994 (ISBN 0-7195-5016-5).
Hopkirk died on 22 August 2014 at the age of 83.
- Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia, 1980
- on early European explorations of the Taklamakan Desert
- Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, 1982
- Setting the East Ablaze: Lenin's Dream of an Empire in Asia, 1984
- The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia, John Murray, 1990, ISBN 071954727X
- On Secret Service East of Constantinople: The Great Game and the Great War, 1994 ISBN 0719550173
- published in the US as: Like Hidden Fire: The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire, 1995
- on plots by the Germans to raise Central Asia against the British during World War I
- Quest for Kim: in Search of Kipling's Great Game, 1996;
- Travel books
- Playing Detective in Search of Kipling's Inspiration
- RSAA Awards
- "Peter Hopkirk". The Times. 27 August 2014.
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