| by Stephen Diehl

News Stories

Thom Shanker on stage at the Middlebury Institute
Thom Shanker speaking from the stage in Irvine Auditorium at the Middlebury Institute, March 16, 2022. (Credit: Mark Basse )

In 1985, at the young age of 29, Thom Shanker was made Moscow bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune. His editor figured if he could cover Chicago City Hall, then the Kremlin should be no problem, Shanker quipped to the audience at his March 16 talk titled “From Perestroika to Putin” in Irvine Auditorium.

Shanker said that, following his new appointment, “the first stop was here in Monterey where I got an immersion in Russian studies. I came here because, quite simply, this institute is the very best language program for private citizens and nongovernment officials.”

Shanker arrived in Moscow later that year, early in the tenure of Mikhail Gorbachev as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He stayed through a time of historic transformation, leaving in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Shanker went on to join the New York Times in 1997, where he was a correspondent covering the Pentagon, the military, and national security, then later assistant Washington editor. He is coauthor, with Eric Schmitt, of Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, published in August 2011 by Times Books and Henry Holt & Company. The book became a New York Times best seller.

Shanker’s appearance was sponsored by the Gerry Taylor Seminars Endowed Fund.

Watch the full talk here:

Perestroika to Putin

Thom Shanker discusses how the U.S.–Russia relationship became so dangerous today.