Jonathan Fenby Biography

Jonathan Fenby

Jonathan Fenby has published twenty books, mainly on modern global history, China and France. In a journalistic career spanning four decades, he was Editor of The Observer, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong (during the handover from Britain to China) and Reuters World Service. He also held senior editorial posts at The Economist, The Independent and The Guardian and has been a foreign correspondent in Vietnam, Germany and France where he spent twelve years working for Reuters, The Economist and The Times. After returning to the UK from Hong Kong in 2000, he was a founding partner of the analytical economic-political service Trusted Sources where he headed China research, and regularly visited the People’s Republic as well as travelling globally to see clients.

Made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000 for services to journalism, he has also been awarded the Légion d’Honneur and Ordre du Mérite for his writings on France. He is a research associate of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at London University and the London School of Economics (LSE). He broadcasts frequently in the UK, US, France and Asia, and speaks at conferences on China and European affairs. 

Among his books are Penguin History of Modern China, now in its third edition and updated to cover the Xi Jinping era, Tiger Head, Snake Tails on China today which was named as a book of the year by the Financial Times, The Guardian and Bloomberg Business News. His biography of Charles de Gaulle was described by a reviewer in the New York Times as “learned, incisive and gripping — an intellectual pleasure”. His most recent book, Crucible, charting how the world was re-made in 1947-8, was named as a book of the year in the UK by The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and BBC History Magazine. 

Jonathan Fenby lives in London, though frequently visiting France and Asia.