Italian Journalist Oriana Fallaci Dies

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Margaret Talbot’s profile of Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci in the New Yorker this June turns out to be a sort of coda for the iconic journalist’s life. Fallaci, who died last night of cancer at the age of 77, was known both for her scathing, revealing interviews and her over-the-top anti-Islamic rhetoric after 9/11. Her opinions may have sparked intense emotions from people of all stripes, but, during her career, she was an excellent and groundbreaking journalist. From Talbot’s profile:

For two decades, from the mid-nineteen-sixties to the mid-nineteen-eighties, Fallaci was one of the sharpest political interviewers in the world. Her subjects were among the world’s most powerful figures: Yasir Arafat, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Haile Selassie, Deng Xiaoping. Henry Kissinger, who later wrote that his 1972 interview with her was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press,” said that he had been flattered into granting it by the company he’d be keeping as part of Fallaci’s “journalistic pantheon.” It was more like a collection of pelts: Fallaci never left her subjects unskinned.

Fallaci’s manner of interviewing was deliberately unsettling: she approached each encounter with studied aggressiveness, made frequent nods to European existentialism (she often disarmed her subjects with bald questions about death, God, and pity), and displayed a sinuous, crafty intelligence. It didn’t hurt that she was petite and beautiful, with straight, smooth hair that she wore parted in the middle or in pigtails; melancholy blue-gray eyes, set off by eyeliner; a cigarette-cured voice; and an adorable Italian accent.

  • The Agitator [New Yorker]
  • Oriana Fallaci, Writer-Provocateur, Dies at 77 [NYT]