Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent Peter Arnett spent a lifetime covering wars and international crises for major American news organizations, most recently 2003's Gulf War and the long bloody aftermath.
Arnett is best known for his live television reporting from Baghdad during the first Gulf War in 1991. His coverage is credited with making CNN a household name. Millions of viewers tuned in around the world to watch his dramatic accounts of the intense bombing campaign -- and his interview with President Saddam Hussein. Arnett won a television Emmy for that assignment.
Thirty years earlier as a young news correspondent, Arnett began covering the Vietnam War for the Associated Press. That assignment would last 13 years, from the buildup of U.S. military advisers in the early 1960s to the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Arnett wrote more than 2,000 news stories from Vietnam for the AP, mainly eyewitness accounts of major battles between American forces and the North Vietnamese army. The late writer-historian David Halberstam described Arnett as "the best reporter of the whole Vietnam War" in his book "The Best and the Brightest." Arnett received the Pulitzer Prize and many other awards for his Vietnam coverage.
The 77-year-old Arnett was born in New Zealand and began his career on The Southland Times newspaper in Invercargill. Arnett joined the fledgling CNN in 1981 after a 20-year career with the AP. He changed from print to TV, he says, because he felt television news was taking over from traditional print coverage as the primary means of news delivery. For the next 18 years, Arnett and his CNN TV crews covered wars and civil disturbances in scores of countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.
As the fear of terrorism grew in the 1990s, Arnett kept returning to Afghanistan. He was the first western journalist to conduct a TV interview with the arch-terrorist Osama Bin Laden, in a cave in the terrorist stronghold of Tora Bora.
Arnett earlier had written his autobiography "Live from the Battlefield" published by Simon & Schuster in 1994. It received much critical praise and was named a "Book of the Year" by The New York Times. Lee Winfrey in the Philadelphia Enquirer newspaper wrote, "Peter Arnett is one of the greatest war correspondents of all time. He has now written one of the best autobiographies ever wrought by anyone in his dangerous trade."
Arnett joined China's Shantou University Cheung Kong School of Journalism as a professor in 2007, and remained in that post for seven years, lecturing also at major Chinese and Asian universities. He authored a book "How I Interviewed Osama Bin Laden" (in Chinese) in 2007.
He wrote a memoir on the Vietnam War in 2015 called "The Fall of Saigon" for Rosetta Publishers, New York, on the 40th anniversary of that event.
In the Queen's honors of 2006, Arnett was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to journalism. He is a dual citizen of the United States and New Zealand. His home is in Fountain Valley, California.