The Fallaci Affair
DURING THE cold war, Italy’s-and perhaps the world’s-best-known journalist was Oriana Fallaci, famed for both her war-zone reporting and her pugnacious interviews with heads of state. Al- though her leftist bent frequently put her at odds with American foreign policy, particularly on Vietnam and the Middle East, she nonetheless adored the power and solidity of the United States and its culture. “In America everything expresses strength-from the sky- scrapers to the waterfalls,” she wrote in her first nov- el, Penelope at War (1962). “Everything expresses se- curity-from the money to the boastfulness.” It is thus not surprising that Fallaci, now seven- ty-two, has spent the last two decades living in New York. What is surprising is that she has spent them in anonymity. Fallaci was once the most ex- hibitionistic of reporters, with only Norman Mail- er, perhaps, to rival her in egotism. Her interviews were marked by a cockiness bordering on conde- scension, and she sought constantly to present her- self as a mover-and-shaker in her own right-one, moreover, who always got the last word.
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