Among the major themes that run through his work are the importance of revolutions in world history and international relations, the centrality of gender to international and transnational processes, the distinct character of the politics of the Arabian Peninsula, and the importance of culture, including jokes and apparently obscure words, in relations between peoples.
Born Dublin, Republic of Ireland in 1946, he was educated at the Marist School, Dundalk (1950-1953), Ampleforth College, Yorkshire (1953-1963), the University of Oxford (1964-1967), and the School of Oriental and African Studies (1969-1969). His doctorate at the London School of Economics (LSE), on the foreign relations of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, was awarded in 1985, 17 years after beginning it (Sale 2002). From 1973 to 1985, he was a fellow of the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam and Washington. From 1969 - 1983 he served as a member of editorial board of New Left Review. In 1983, he took up a teaching position at LSE and from 1985 to 2008 was Professor of International Relations there. After recovering from illness in the early 2000s he was made Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the LSE in 2005, but in 2008 he retired and became an ICREA research professor at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies, in Catalonia (Spain).
A committed linguist, and advocate of the centrality of language to understanding contemporary globalization, Halliday can work in twelve languages, including Latin, Greek, Catalan, Persian, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, and English. Since 1965, he has traveled widely in the Middle East, visiting every country from Afghanistan to Morocco, and giving lectures in most. He has met and interviewed several key Islamic fighters, rebels, and religious leaders and politicians over the years.
He supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as well as the (first) Gulf War, the interventions in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999, as well as the American war against Afghanistan in 2001.
In 2002, he was elected Fellow of the British Academy.
• Edited and introduced Russia, China and the West 1953-1966, by Isaac Deutscher, OUP 1969, Penguin 1970. Serbo-Croat, German translations.
• Translated and introduced Marxism and Philosophy by Karl Korsch, NLB 1970.
• Arabia without Sultans, Penguin 1974, reprinted 1975, 1979; Italian, Japanese, Persian, Arabic, Turkish translations.
• Iran: Dictatorship and Development, Penguin 1978, reprinted 1979 twice; Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish German, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Chinese translations.
• Mercenaries in the Persian Gulf, Russell Press, 1979. Persian translation.
• Soviet Policy in the Arc of Crisis, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, 1981: issued as Threat from the East? Penguin 1982; Japanese, French, Arabic translations.
• The Ethiopian Revolution, with Maxine Molyneux, Verso, London 1982.
• The Making of the Second Cold War, Verso, London 1983, reprinted 1984, 1986, 1988. German, Persian, Spanish, Japanese translations.
• State and Ideology in the Middle East and Pakistan, edited by Fred Halliday and Hamza Alavi, Macmillan, 1988.
• Cold War, Third World, Radius/Hutchinson, 1989. Published in USA as From Kabul to Managua, Pantheon, 1989. Arabic and Japanese translation.
• Revolution and Foreign Policy: the Case of South Yemen, 1967 1987, Cambridge University Press, 1990.
• Arabs in Exile, The Yemeni Community in Britain, I.B. Tauris, 1992.
• Rethinking International Relations, Macmillan, 1994. Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese translations.
• From Potsdam to Perestroika, Conversations with Cold Warriors, (BBC News and Current Affairs Publications, 1995.
• Islam and the Myth of Confrontation, I.B. Tauris, 1996. Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Indonesian, Polish, Spanish translations.
• Revolution and World Politics: The Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power, Macmillan,1999. Turkish translation.
• Nation and Religion in the Middle East, London: Saqi Books, 2000. Arabic translation
• The World at 2000: Perils and Promises, Palgrave, 2001. Greek and Turkish translations.
• Two Hours That Shook the World. September 11 2001, Causes and Consequences, London: Saqi, 2001. Arabic, Swedish translations.
• The Middle East in International Relations. Power, Politics and Ideology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Italian, Polish translation.
• 100 Myths About the Middle East. London: Saqi Books, 2005. Arabic, Italian, Turkish, Portuguese and Spanish translations.
• Shocked and Awed, Dictionary of Words and Phrases Occasioned by 9/11, to be published by I.B.Tauris, 2009.
• Language and Politics in the Middle East, Saqi, 2009; Britain's First Muslims, I.B.Tauris, 2009.
• Introduction to International Relations, Palgrave/Macmillan 2009.