Penguin Speakers Bureau

P.W. Singer

Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution


Dr. Peter Warren Singer is senior fellow and director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. He is the youngest scholar named senior fellow in Brookings’ ninety-year history. In 2005, CNN named him to its “New Guard” list of the “Next Generation of Newsmakers.” Singer has also been recognized by The Financial Times as “Guru of the Week” (for the thinker that most influenced the world that week) and by Slate online magazine for “Quote of the Day.”

Dr. Singer is considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st-century warfare. He has written for the full range of major media and journals, including The Boston Globe , the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Current History, Survival, International Security, Parameters, Weltpolitik, and The World Policy Journal. He has been quoted in every major U.S. newspaper and news magazine and has delivered talks at venues ranging from the U.S. Congress to more than forty universities around the world. He has provided commentary on military affairs for nearly every major TV and radio outlet, including ABC’s Nightline, Al Jazeera, the BBC, CBS’s 60 Minutes, CNN, FOX, NPR, and NBC’s Today Show. He is also a founder and organizer of the U.S.-Islamic World Forum (, a global conference that brings together leaders from across the U.S. and the Muslim world.

His first book, Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Cornell University Press, 2003), pioneered the study of the new industry of private companies providing military services for hire, an issue that soon became important with the use and abuse of these companies in Iraq. The book, originally planned for a 500-copy print run, has now sold over 40,000 copies, has gone through three print runs and a paperback version, and has been translated into Japanese, Korean, Urdu, Chinese, Turkish, and Italian. It was named best book of the year by the American Political Science Association, among the top five international affairs books of the year by the Gelber Prize, and a “top ten summer read” by Businessweek. It is now in the assigned texts at colleges ranging from Yale Law School to the Army War College. Singer continues to serve as a resource on the private military issue to the U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Defense, C.I.A., and the European Union. He also helped bring to light the role of private contractors in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and the Halliburton contract controversies in Iraq. Singer’s work was featured in the History Channel documentary Soldiers for Hire, and he served as a consultant on the topic for the TV drama The West Wing.

Dr. Singer’s next book, Children at War (Pantheon, 2005), explored the rise of another new force in modern warfare—child soldier groups. Dr. Singer’s “fascinating” (The New York Post) and “landmark” (Newsweek) work was the first book to comprehensively explore the compelling and tragic rise of child soldier groups. It was recognized with the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book of the Year Award. His commentary on the issue was featured in a variety of venues ranging from NPR and FOX News to Defense News and People magazine. Dr. Singer has served as a consultant on the issue to the U.S. Marine Corps and Congress, and the recommendations in his book resulted in changes in the U.N. peacekeeping training program. An accompanying A&E/History Channel documentary, Child Warriors, won a 2008 CINE Golden Eagle Award for excellence in the production of film, television, video, and new media. Singer also helped advise the Don Cheadle movie Traitor, as well as the upcoming 24 movie/DVD.

Dr. Singer’s book, Wired for War (Penguin, 2009), looks at the implications of robotics and other new technologies for war, politics, ethics, and law in the 21st century. He served as a consultant on war technology and private military contractors for the video game Full Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and his research has been presented to audiences as diverse as the Air Force Institute of Technology and the National Student Leadership Conference.

Prior to his current position, Dr. Singer was the founding director of the Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World at the Brookings Institutions’ Saban Center. He has also worked for the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, the Balkans Task Force in the U.S. Department of Defense, and the International Peace Academy. Singer received his PhD in government from Harvard University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Speaking Topics

  • Wired for War

    The science fiction/science reality of robots, war, and politics in the 21st Century

  • Millennial World

    Understanding the world, America, and Generation Y

  • Children at War

    Understanding and responding to the child soldiers problem

See More Topics

More About This Speaker

Featured Book

Wired for War

"Lively, penetrating, and wise...A warmly human (even humorous) account of robotics and other military technologies that focuses where it should: on us."

– Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy and Director, National Semiconductor Corporation

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