Engdahl is the son of F. William Engdahl, Sr., and Ruth Aalund (b. Rishoff) and he grew up in Texas. After a degree in engineering and jurisprudence from Princeton University in 1966 (BA) and graduate study in comparative economics at the University of Stockholm from 1969 to 1970, he worked as an economist and free-lance journalist in New York and in Europe.
Engdahl began writing about oil politics with the first oil shock in the early 1970s.
His first book was called “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order”, and discusses the role of Zbigniew Brzezinski and George Ball and of the USA in the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran, which was meant to manipulate oil prices and to stop Soviet expansion. Engdahl claims that Brzezinski and Ball used the Islamic Balkanization model proposed by Dr Bernard Lewis. In 2007, he completed “Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of GMO”.
Engdahl is also a frequent contributor to globalresearch.ca, the main website of the Centre for Research on Globalization.