Known for works such as Managing the China Challenge and Governing China: From Revolution Through Reform, this political scientist also directed the John L. Thornton China Center and became a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
After graduating from Dartmouth College, he received both a master's degree and a doctorate from Columbia University.
During the administration of United States President Bill Clinton, Lieberthal served on the U.S. National Security Council as both Senior Director for Asia and Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
He grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, as the child of Milton Lieberthal and Naomi Bird Lieberthal. His marriage to Jane Lindsay resulted in sons named Keith and Geoffrey.
In 2007, he became the father-in-law of actress Julianna Margulies. Margulies and Keith Lieberthal welcomed a son named Kieran in 2008.