Why you should care
She was always controversial. Sometimes she was magnificent.
Part of an OZY series History’s Forgotten Women.
Video by Charlotte Buchen
Oriana Fallaci managed to land interviews with the world’s most powerful men — or, as she liked to call them, “the bastards who decide our lives.” In the 1970s and ’80s, her work was coveted by editors from Corriere della Sera to the The New York Times Magazine, and her antagonistic interviews make most current political interviews read like puff pieces. Fallaci frowned on press neutrality and believed there was no such thing as objectivity. “The word is a hypocrisy, which is sustained by the lie that the truth stays in the middle,” she once said. She was no fly on the wall, more like a bull in a china shop.
After 9/11, Fallaci turned her attention to what she viewed as a new enemy: Islam. She began to write increasingly politically incorrect essays against all Muslims, not just Islamic extremists. In her book The Force of Reason, she accused the West of letting its ideological enemy grow from within.“I can’t explain how a high-profile journalist with such a wide cultural, social and personal background could base her reasoning on such narrow-minded views,” says Egyptian-Italian journalist Randa Ghazi.
Nine years after Fallaci’s death, such intellectually extremist barbs continue to stir controversy. Oriana Fallaci will long be remembered for being many things — from brilliant political journalist to accused Islamophobe — but never for keeping her head down.