William Langewiesche Writes Better Articles Than You


Back when Vanity Fair snatched William Langewiesche from The Atlantic, it was a genius move. Langewiesche — the undisputed king of chronicling the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, latter-day pirates and Pakistan’s ez-access to nuclear weapons — helped the mag further boost their hard journalism credentials alongside the celeb reporting.

Now Langewiesche is the subject of an article himself: A killer profile in the San Francisco Chronicle:

One overcast day in suburban East London, William Langewiesche stood waiting outside a Halal restaurant. He was about to meet a potential source for a story on the rise of Islamic militancy in Great Britain. Before long, a small blue car pulled up to the sidewalk. The four men inside were dressed in traditional robes. He took a seat in back and shut the door behind him.

As they sped through the district of Ilford, the driver took evasive actions, as if to shake cars in pursuit. At one point he turned and said, “Are we making you nervous? Are you afraid?” Langewiesche said no, while trying not to laugh. He’d been to their part of the world – South Asia – and knew full well they were harmless.

They arrived at a small park, where they exited the car and sat in a circle on the lawn. The men were dressed as if they’d come down from the mountains of Afghanistan. Langewiesche was dressed in standard Western clothes. He expressed sympathy for their cause and took notes while they discussed the glories of jihad.

When it was over Langewiesche didn’t know what to do with the material. Could he even use it? The men were poseurs. Second- and third-generation Brits clearly playing a part. By the time he returned to California he had yet to decide if the scene fit into his larger piece.

Recommended — and it’s pronounced Long-gah-vee-shuh.

(Image via San Francisco Chronicle)