Os Guinness is an author and social critic. Great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War II where both his parents and grandparents were medical missionaries – his grandfather having had the privilege of treating the Empress Dowager, the Last Emperor and the Imperial family. A survivor of the terrible Henan famine of 1943, in which five million died in three months, including his two brothers, Os was a witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949 and the beginning of the reign of terror under Mao Tse Tung. He was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe where he was educated in England. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his D.Phil in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford.
Os has written or edited thirty books on a wide range of themes, including The American Hour, Time for Truth, The Call, Invitation to the Classics, Long Journey Home, Unspeakable, and A Case for Civility. His latest book is A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, published by InterVarsity Press in August, 2012.
Previously, Os was a freelance reporter with the BBC. Since coming to the United States in 1984, he has been a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies and a Guest Scholar and Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. From 1986 to 1989, Os served as Executive Director of The Williamsburg Charter Foundation, a bicentennial celebration of the First Amendment. In this position he helped to draft The Williamsburg Charter which was signed by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, Chief Justices William Rehnquist and Warren Burger, Coretta Scott King, Elie Wiesel, several Members of Congress, and many others. Os also co-authored the public school curriculum, Living With Our Deepest Differences.
In 1991, Os founded the Trinity Forum, and was Senior Fellow there until 2004, conducting seminars for leaders around the world and publishing seven major curricula, such as Entrepreneurs of Life, When No One Sees, Steering through Chaos, the Great Experiment and Doing Well, Doing Good. Os has been a frequent speaker and seminar leader at political and business conferences in both Europe and the United States (including “TED”), and has addressed audiences from the British House of Commons to the U.S. Congress to the St Petersburg Parliament to the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences. He has also been the subject of numerous media interviews, appearing on programs such as C-SPAN’s “Booknotes.” His countless addresses at leading universities worldwide have helped to influence an entire generation of thinkers.
Os has also been Senior Fellow at the EastWest Institute in New York, where he drafted Charter for Religious Freedom, a reaffirmation of Article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was published in Brussels at the European Parliament in 2012 with the endorsement and support of the United Nations Rapporteur on Religious Freedom.
As a European visitor to the United States and a great admirer but detached observer of American culture today, he stands in the long tradition of outside voices who have contributed so much to America’s ongoing discussion about the state of the union. His lifelong passion has been to make sense of our extraordinary modern world and to stand between the worlds of scholarship and ordinary life, helping each to understand the other – particularly when advanced modern life touches on the profound issues of faith.
Among experiences that have played a major role in the shaping of Os’ life and writing have been his early years in the city that had experienced the horrific “Rape of Nanking,” travelling around India and studying under a guru in Rishikesh in order to understand Eastern religions, and meeting famous leaders and thinkers of the past generation, including Winston Churchill, Bertrand Russell, Arnold Toynbee and A.J. Ayer.
Os lives with his wife Jenny in McLean, Virginia, and they have one son CJ, who is a businessman in New York.