Tom Gjelten is Religion Correspondent for NPR. Previously he covered national security, intelligence, terrorism and the military. He brings to that assignment many years covering international news from posts in Washington and around the world.
Gjelten's overseas reporting experience includes stints in Mexico City as NPR's Latin America correspondent from 1986 to 1990 and in Berlin as Central Europe correspondent from 1990 to 1994. During those years, he covered the wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia, as well as the Gulf War of 1990-1991 and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.
With other NPR correspondents, Gjelten described the transitions to democracy and capitalism in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union. His reporting from Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994 was the basis for his book, "Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege" (HarperCollins), praised by The New York Times as "a chilling portrayal of a city's slow murder" and selected by the American Library Association as a "Notable Nonfiction Book." He is also the author of "Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View" (Carnegie Corporation) and a contributor to "Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know " (W. W. Norton).
Prior to his current assignment, Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR's lead Pentagon reporter during the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Gjelten has also reported extensively from Cuba in recent years, visiting the island more than a dozen times. His new book, "Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: A Biography of a Cause" (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family.
Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work. His 1992 series "From Marx to Markets," documenting the transition to market economics in Eastern Europe, won an Overseas Press Club award for "Best Business or Economic Reporting in Radio or TV." His coverage of the wars in the former Yugoslavia earned Gjelten the Overseas Press Club's Lowell Thomas Award, a George Polk Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He was part of the NPR teams that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for September 11 coverage and a George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of the war in Iraq.
Gjelten is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, He began his professional career as a public school teacher and a freelance writer.