Leslie Cockburn has a Master’s from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. While in London she began working for NBC News. Among her early reports was an interview with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
In 1978, Cockburn moved to CBS. Her 1984 report, "The Dirty War," revealed the Contras' horrifying record of routine atrocities against the civilian population. Following the overthrow of the Duvalier regime in Haiti in 1986, Cockburn’s "Haiti’s Nightmare" (1987) led to an outcry in Congress and the suspension of all U.S. military aid to Haiti.
In 1987, Cockburn began producing and reporting documentaries in collaboration with her husband, Andrew Cockburn, including "From the Killing Fields" for ABC News. During the 1991 Gulf War, Cockburn reported from Israel on the Iraqi Scud attacks against Tel Aviv. Her 1991 PBS Frontline documentary, "The War We Left Behind," exposed the disastrous impact of economic sanctions on ordinary Iraqis.
In 1997, Cockburn conceived and co-produced The Peacemaker, starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman, a thriller about a terrorist attack on New York City with a stolen nuclear weapon. In 1998, Cockburn served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. After teaching for a semester, she returned to full-time journalism, producing a number of pieces for 60 Minutes, including "America’s Worst Nightmare" (2000), a report on political instability in a nuclear-armed Pakistan and the growing power of fundamentalist groups linked to the Taliban.
In 2009, Cockburn directed and co-produced her first feature documentary for theatrical release. American Casino relates the story of the origins, progress and consequences of the subprime mortgage disaster that led to the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. The film premiered at New York's Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009.
Baghdad Solitaire is her first novel. She lives in Rappahannock County, VA.