Fallaci, Oriana 1930-2006

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Fallaci, Oriana 1930-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born June 29, 1930, in Florence, Italy; died of cancer, September 15, 2006, in Florence, Italy. Journalist and author. Fallaci was a charismatic reporter known for her ability to extract frank and politically damaging confessions from world leaders. The daughter of socialist parents, she was already a leftist when World War II inflamed her outrage against right-wing dictators. During the war, she helped Allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines escape to safety. Afterward, she became a reporter for an Italian newspaper and in the 1950s worked for Epoca and L'Europeo magazines, often covering crime stories. She worked for the latter publication through 1977. Fallaci also began to travel as a war correspondent; an experience in Vietnam resulted in the book Nothing and Amen, originally published in Italian in 1969. By this time, she had already fostered a reputation as an ingenious interviewer of right-wing politicians, the rich, and the social elite. She lambasted Hollywood, war, and chauvinism, and in 1962, wrote a novel that was translated four years later as Penelope at War. Collections of some of her most thought-provoking interviews were collected in The Egotists: Six Surprising Interviews (1968) and Interview with History (1976). She managed to get President Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to confess that he got a thrill out of political power, and so embarrassed other leaders that many tried to escape her questions. Sometimes, though, she sympathized with her subjects, especially Greek leftist activist Alexandros Panagoulis, with whom she had a three-year affair. Panagoulis later died under suspicious circumstances, and Fallaci fictionalized his story in the 1979 novel A Man. After leaving L'Europeo in 1977, Fallaci primarily contributed to American news magazines and newspapers, including Look, Life, and the Washington Post. She gained a wide fan following because of her frank discussions with politicians. Later in her career, however, her increasing animosity toward Muslims drew criticism. In 1979, she had a confrontational interview with the Ayatollah Khomeini, during which she criticized Muslim treatment of women. She also cautioned Europeans against allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by immigrating Muslims who refused to acclimate themselves culturally. Her books La Rabbia e l'orgoglio (2001; translated as The Rage and the Pride in 2002) and La forza della ragione (2004; "The Force of Reason"), while highly critical of Muslim culture and Islam, became best sellers in Italy. The winner of such awards as the St. Vincent Prize for journalism and the Hemingway Prize, the latter for the novel Inshallah (1992), Fallaci will be remembered both for her penetrating interviews and for her controversial belief that Islam was the basis for a new brand of fascism in the world.



Chicago Tribune, September 16, 2006, section 2, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2006, p. B13.

New York Times, September 16, 2006, p. A16.

Times (London, England), September 16, 2006, p. 72.

Washington Post, September 16, 2006, p. B6.