Christiane Amanpour was born in London in 1958. Her father, an Iranian airline executive, moved the family to Tehran shortly after her birth. Politically connected and wealthy, the Amanpours led a privileged life in Iran. At the age of 11, Amanpour was sent back to England to attend the Holy Cross Convent School in Buckinghamshire. She stayed at Holy Cross until she was 16, when she went to the exclusive New Hall School, the oldest Roman Catholic girls’ school in the U.K. In January 1979 the Islamic revolution in Iran toppled the shah, forcing many of his followers to leave the country, the Amanpour family among them. Her father lost everything he had owned in Iran. Amanpour later credited her desire to be a journalist to this firsthand experience.
Amanpour moved to the U.S. and attended the University of Rhode Island, majoring in journalism. Following her graduation, she worked at an NBC affiliate in Providence, R.I. In September 1983 she was hired at the fledgling CNN as an assistant for the international news desk. By 1986 she was working at CNN’s New York bureau as a producer-correspondent. Amanpour received her big break in 1989, when she was promoted to a post in Frankfurt, Ger. She arrived there at an opportune time; the pro-democracy movement was sweeping Eastern Europe, and Amanpour quickly became CNN’s reporter on the spot.
Amanpour gained distinction in Europe, but it was during the Persian Gulf War that she became a familiar face. She covered the conflict from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the eventual triumph of the U.S.-led coalition. After the war she reported on the Kurdish uprising in northern Iraq. In 1992 Amanpour went to Bosnia and Herzegovina to cover the outbreak of violence that she felt would become “my generation’s war.” Her reporting was credited with bringing the savage nature of that conflict to the attention of the world, although some criticized her for what they felt was her tendency to editorialize rather than report, claiming that she was clearly biased against the Serbs. Amanpour responded by stating that “objectivity means giving all sides a hearing. It doesn’t mean treating all sides equally.”