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July 17, 2010

Interview with History

Oriana Fallaci - ISBN - 0395252237

Fallaci was, without doubt, the greatest political interviewer of modern times, and thought of as one of the most gifted, determined interviewers of all time.

She came of age working in the Italian resistance during WWII, an organization in which her parents were active. Thereafter she became a journalist. During her long career she is said to have interviewed anyone and everyone "who mattered." Because of her fame and uncanny abilities, she could--and did--approach the powerful and gain access to them. She was intrepid.

She was a fully emancipated and successful woman in the man's world of political journalism, and antagonized many feminists (my kind of woman) by her championship of motherhood and her idolization of heroic manhood. She was a believer in historic European civilization, and deeply moral, though a-religious (she referred to herself as an "Atheist Christian".)

Her critics felt that she outraged the conventions of interviewing and reporting; she didn't care. From her experiences she concluded: "Whether it comes from a despotic sovereign or an elected president, from a murderous general or a beloved leader, I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomenon. I have always looked on disobedience toward the oppressive as the only way to use the miracle of having been born." She trusted no authority. She was most adept at influencing prominent people to say things during her interviews which they wished ever after they had not said. Many would plead with her to edit their statements, or forgo publication of them. She always refused. Hence she leaves a record of incredible interviews with the most important people in the world from the 60's into the 90's. So famous is she, that her writings have been translated into 21 languages.

She is particularly well known for an interview with Henry Kissinger in which he agreed that the Vietnam War was a "useless war" and compared himself to "the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse." He later grumbled that it was "the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press."

The book, Interview with History, is an anthology of her best and most important interviews, led off with the infamous Kissinger tract. It is sensational both in style and content. She brings to the table, from preparatory research, a formidable knowledge of history, and demonstrates in classic fashion why the world is a mess, painting word portraits of famous people who have made it so. While no longer in print it is available, used, from $2-100. (Try ABE books)

The Islamic attack on the U.S. so enraged her that she emerged from retirement to write three books viciously critical of Islam and, most explicitly, Islamic extremists. The first--The Rage and The Pride--was written in 4 days, beginning on Sept. 11th, without a break; no sleep, just coffee and cigarettes. It is a masterpiece of both rage over wanton destruction by a barbaric culture, and pride in western civilization from the time of the Greeks to the 20th century. Not long after that, she completed The Force of Reason. Both became mega-best sellers and have been translated into many languages, including English. I'm still hoping for the third. The first two are indeed superb, and I have reviewed them on this site long ago.

I recommended, and still do, that those two books be read critically by all westerners who value civilization, and especially by those who cannot--or refuse to--discriminate between good and evil. I also recommend "Interview" for the sheer pleasure of reading an heroic journalist in her prime, insisting upon answers from the powerful, to critical questions most journalists would not have the cajones to ask . . . then or now.

She died several years ago from breast cancer. RIP !!

Posted by Curmudgeon at July 17, 2010 1:56 PM