Al Pessin is a former foreign correspondent with more than 15 years overseas in a nearly 40-year journalism career. (See links below.)
SANDBLAST grew mainly out of his experiences as a member of the Pentagon press corps from 2005-2011, including numerous trips to Afghanistan with Secretaries Rumsfeld and Gates, and with senior military officers, visiting the headquarters in Kabul and several forward operating bases. During that period, he also traveled to Iraq, Pakistan, Guantanamo Bay and many other strategic locales.
In addition to his years at the Pentagon, Al has been posted to Hong Kong, Islamabad, Beijing, Jerusalem and London, and was a correspondent at the White House and in New York.
Al was expelled from China after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 for coverage that the Chinese government described as “illegal news gathering” that was “fomenting counter-revolutionary rebellion.” Other major Asia stories Al covered included the Philippine revolution, China-Soviet rapprochement, unrest in Tibet and the plight of Cambodian refugees in Thailand. In the Middle East, Al covered Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the rise of Benjamin Netanyahu, and increasing Kurdish nationalism in eastern Turkey. In later years, he returned to the region to cover the Arab Spring in Cairo and Tripoli, and the fallout from the Syrian Civil War in Lebanon. And as Europe Correspondent in the 2010s, Al covered the Ukrainian revolution and the Russian-sponsored invasion of Eastern Ukraine, as well as Europe’s economic crisis and nuclear negotiations with Iran.
A rarity in journalism, Al spent his entire career with one employer, the Voice of America. VOA provided him with the opportunity to have a career devoted almost entirely to international news, even during his domestic assignments. In addition to his reporting, he spent 10 years as a senior editor and news manager, and was executive producer of VOA’s first live radio-television simulcast coverage of the presidential debates and election night in 2000.
Al also spent five years as an adjunct instructor in the Washington Program of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism (his alma mater), teaching a graduate course in National Security Journalism. He has spoken at Harvard and Stanford, and delivered a seminar on U.S. National Security Challenges for the 21st Century at the University of Virginia.
In 1989, for his China coverage, Al received the Communicator of the Year Award from the National Association of Government Communicators and won a Gold Medal at the International Radio Festivals of New York.
Al has been published in the Los Angeles Times, thehill.com and DefenseOne. In 2016, he had a humor piece on Politico. Earlier in his career, Al’s work appeared in The Quill, The Gannett Center Journal, and Medill Magazine.
SANDBLAST is Al’s first novel, with two sequel in the works. He also wrote the two-act farce MURDER AT THE BUTCHER’S, which will have its world premier in the fall of 2019.