Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. Sick is a captain (ret.) in the U.S. Navy, with service in the Persian Gulf, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. He was the deputy director for International Affairs at the Ford Foundation from 1982 to 1987, where he was responsible for programs relating to U.S. foreign policy. Sick taught for more than 30 years at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where he was regularly voted one of the top five teachers. He is a member (emeritus) of the board of Human Rights Watch in New York and founding chair of its advisory committee on the Middle East and North Africa. He is the executive director of Gulf/2000 Project, an international online research project on political, economic and security developments in the Persian Gulf, being conducted at Columbia University since 1993 with support from a number of major foundations.
Gary Sick received his B.A. from the University of Kansas in 1957 and a Master of Science from George Washington University in 1970. He earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1973.
He is the author of All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran (Random House 1985) and October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan (Random House 1991).