Kati Marton

Journalist and Author

Ideology and Discourse: Are they Mutually Exclusive?

About the Topic

Patron Event

Award winning journalist and best-selling author Kati Marton discusses the challenges of free discourse in a world where ideologies are resurgent. From the Levant to Hungary to the Surveillance State, the right to speak truth to power is under attack. Drawing upon the research for her upcoming book, The Believer, the true story of an American diplomat turned Soviet spy with fatal consequences, Ms. Marton will lead a riveting talk on the dangers of putting propaganda over truth.

About the Speaker

Best-selling author Kati Marton has combined a career as a writer with human rights advocacy.  From 2003 to 2008 Marton chaired the International Women’s Health Coalition, a global leader in promoting and protecting the health and human rights of women and girls.  From 2001 to July 2002 Kati Marton was Chief Advocate for the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations. From 2000 to 2011 she was a member of the board of Human Rights Watch.  Marton is currently a director and formerly chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists. She also serves on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee and the New America Foundation, a public policy think tank.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, P.E.N. International and the Author’s Guild, and sits on the board of Central European University.

Since 1980, Marton has published eight books and contributed as a reporter to ABC News, Public Broadcasting Services, National Public Radio, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Times of London, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Vanity Fair and The New Republic. Her first book, Wallenberg, a biography of Raoul Wallenberg, was published by Random House in 1982. From 1983 until 1984, she was a columnist for the Sunday Times of London. Her second book, a novel entitled An American Woman was published in 1987. Her third book was an investigative history entitled The Polk Conspiracy – Murder and Cover-up in the Case of CBS News Correspondent George Polk, a New York Times’ 100 Best Books of the Year selectionHer fourth book, A Death in Jerusalem – the Assassination by Extremists of the First Middle East Peacemaker, was published by Pantheon Books/Random House in the fall of 1994. Marton’s book, Hidden Power – Presidential Marriages that Shaped History, was published in September 2001 and was a New York Times best seller. The Great Escape – Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, was released by Simon and Schuster in October 2006. Marton’s Cold War memoir, Enemies of the People - My Family’s Journey to America, was published in the fall of 2009 by Simon and Schuster and was a 2010 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Prize.  The New York Times called it “a powerful and absorbing narrative…[with] all the magnetism and yes, the excitement of the very best spy fiction.”  Her memoir, Paris—A Love Story, was published in August 2012 by Simon and Schuster, and became an immediate New York Times bestseller.

From 1995 until 1997, Marton hosted NPR’s America and the World, a weekly half-hour broadcast on international affairs. From December 1977 until December 1979, Marton was ABC Bureau Chief in Germany. While based in Germany, Marton reported from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Holland, Northern Ireland, East Germany, and the Middle East. Marton was a news writer/reporter at WCAU-TV, the CBS-owned-and-operated affiliate in Philadelphia from January 1973 until November 1977. From 1972 until 1973, Marton was a reporter for National Public Radio in Washington. In addition to diplomatic and political assignments, Marton was involved in the development of NPR’s program, All Things Considered.

Kati Marton has been honored for her writing, reporting, and human rights advocacy including a George Foster Peabody Award for a one-hour documentary on China. She was a Gannett Fellow at Columbia University’s School of Journalism in 1988 and she received a Philadelphia Press Association Award for Best Television Feature Story and a PBS Award for reporting from China. In 1997, she received the Marc H. Tannenbaum Foundation Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding and the Athens, Greece-based Kyriazis Foundation prize for the promotion of press freedom. In 2001, she was awarded the Rbekah Kohut Humanitarian Award by the National Council of Jewish Women. In 2002 she received a Matrix-Award for Women Who Change the World. In 2004 she was honored with the Citizen’s Committee of New York’s Marietta Tree Award for Public Service.  In 2004 she also received the Edith Wharton Award for Journalism and the Woodhull Institute’s Changemakers Award for Ethical Leadership in the Arts.  Most recently the President of the Republic of Hungary awarded Marton the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of The Republic of Hungary.  In 2007, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research honored her with their Special Cultural Award.  In 2008 she was presented the Leadership Award for Media by the Merage Foundation for the American Dream. In 2011 Marton was awarded the United Nations Association Leo Nevas Human Rights Award. In 2011 she was named a Rockefeller Foundation Creative Arts Fellow.  In 2012 Marton was honored by CEC ArtsLink for her work “changing global perspectives.”

Marton attended Wells College in Aurora, New York, the Sorbonne, and the Institute des Etudes de Science Politiques in Paris. She earned a B.A. in Romance Languages and a M.A. in International Relations from the George Washington University. She has also received two honorary doctorates: one from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island in 2000 and another from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York in 2009.  She is the mother of a son, Christopher Jennings, and a daughter, Elizabeth Jennings.