Janet Wallach is the author of nine books and has written extensively about the Middle East. Her book, Desert Queen; The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1996), has been translated into twelve languages and was a New York Times notable book of the year. The New York Times Sunday Book Review said, “Ms. Wallach is an expert on the region and her knowledge is on full display here. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “necessary reading for anyone interested in the Middle East.” The book was nominated best book of the year by Elle Magazine in France .

Her novel, Seraglio (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2003), was called “both serious and enchanting” by Publishers Weekly. The New York Times Sunday Book Review said it was “a Horatio Alger story … and a micro-history of the Ottoman Empire.” In her research for the book, Ms. Wallach traveled to Turkey where she worked with experts in history, art and the Topkapi Palace.

Ms. Wallach is the author of Chanel: Her Style and Her Life (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1998), the story of the 20th century’s most important female fashion designer. The book received a three-page review by John Updike in the New Yorker, and was recommended by Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Town & Country.

Over the course of the past fifteen years, much of it spent living and working in the Middle East, Ms. Wallach has co-authored Arafat: In the Eyes of the Beholder (Carol Publishing, 1991, updated 1997), a biography of Yasser Arafat ; The New Palestinians (Prima, 1992), a look at leading figures in the West Bank and Gaza ; and Still Small Voices (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), the personal stories of ten Israelis and Palestinians during the intifada . Her work on the Arafat biography took her to Tunis, where she spent three months interviewing Arafat and other PLO officials; Egypt, where she met with PLO officials, Egyptian officials and Arafat family members; Syria, where she interviewed radical anti-Arafat Palestinian groups and high Syrian officials; Jordan, where, in addition to meetings with Arafat confidantes and family members, she had an extensive interview with His Majesty, the late King Hussein; and Israel, where she interviewed leading officials and met with the Defense Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin.

As a frequent contributor to The Washington Post Magazine from 1982-1987, and as a contributor to Smithsonian Magazine and other periodicals, Janet Wallach has written cover story profiles of Queen Noor of Jordan; First Lady of Egypt Jihan Sadat; Iraqi Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon; Reza Pahlavi, would-be Shah of Iran; and Saudi entrepreneur Adnan Khashoggi.

Ms. Wallach is a Woodrow Wilson Institute Visiting Fellow and has taught at Bradford College; Earlham College; Longwood College; Ohio Wesleyan University; Stetson College; St. Olaph’s College; Susquehana College; and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Janet Wallach has been a guest speaker at Arizona State University (T.E. Lawrence Symposium); the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs; Chautauqua Institution; The Cosmopolitan Club; The Explorers’ Club, Harmonie Club; Meridien House; the National Arts Club; Quinipiac College; St. Olaph’s College (Nobel Peace Prize Symposium); Wellesley College; Women’s Democratic Club; Women’s Republican Club; and Yale University.

She has appeared as a guest commentator on various television programs for the Cable News Network, A&E “Biography,” MSNBC, National Geographic, and network talk shows as well as on BBC and C-Span “Booknotes.” She co-hosted a nationally syndicated program, “Private Lives; Public People” on the Lifetime cable network.

Janet Wallach is a founding director and president emeritus of Seeds of Peace, a non-profit organization created by her late husband John Wallach. This year-round educational and leadership training program begins by bringing outstanding teen-agers from countries in conflict to a summer camp in Maine; it continues with follow-up workshops and seminars in the region, and with conferences in the U.S. and elsewhere. More than 4000 teenagers have graduated from Seeds of Peace. The program focuses on Israelis and Arabs, and also brings together Indians and Pakistanis, and Afghans, as well as American youngsters. In October 2000 Seeds of Peace received a Unesco peace prize.

Janet Wallach was born in New York City and received a B.A. degree from New York University. She has two sons, David Allyn and Michael Wallach.

3 Responses to AUTHOR BIO

  1. E.J. Fleming says:

    Hi Janet, Looking forward to reading the Hetty book. I am quite familiar with Hetty and from what I’ve read of your treatment of her it seems you are the first to “get it,” to not get lost in the “Witch of Wall Street” story line. I write because I’d be interested in chatting with you about a book I’ve been researching for two years (while I’ve been writing and finishing a book about the Phoebe Prince suicide back in MA two years ago). For years my family has summered at Round Hill so I’ve been interested in the Hetty/Ned story for a long time and always planned to write about it. Other projects have conspired to get in the way but plan on going back to the Greens when Phoebe is done and out in the next few weeks. Anyway, my focus is not so much on Hetty but on Ned, who is perhaps an even more fascinating story than Hetty (though she was an amazing woman and story). His life was geometricallymore bizarre than that of Hetty for any number of reasons, as you probably know. So he’s my focus. I’d love to chat with you if you have any time. I can be reached at and I can give you my details. One quick story. I found an old newspaper story (I’ve archived about 8,000 newspaper stories over the years) about her houses. I actually have a spread-sheet listing every place she lived from her childhood to her death by month, confirmed through research. Fascinating stuff. Anyway, she actually did own one house. She bought a place in New Jersey and lived there for exactly one night. A retirement home for stage actors is on the site now but the historian for the organization told me she moved in and the next morning asked her live-in “What was that dreadful noise last night?” He told her, “Crickets.” She moved back to Hoboken that day. Loved that story. So Hetty, it seemed to me. Good luck with the book and I look forward to chatting some time.
    E.J. Fleming

    • Hetty’s son Ned was a dynamic combination of his father and his mother. Hetty doted on him and ,although she was strict with his business education, she allowed him plenty of leeway with his life. Good luck with your research. It sounds like you are well on your way.

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