Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

A regular contributor to the Italian news magazine L’Europeo and a successful free-lance journalist, novelist, and essayist, Oriana Fallaci became famous primarily as one of the most original and controversial interviewers of her time. The essence of her style is captured in Interview with History (translated into English by John Shepley and published in the United States in 1976), her best-known work of journalism. It might be more accurate, however, to call the genre in which she works “contemporary history,” a term she herself uses in her introduction.

The fourteen interviews in this anthology first appeared in L’Europeo between 1969 and 1974, although most are concentrated around 1972-1973. The dominant news stories from that era are reflected in the interviews themselves: the Vietnam War, the Middle East crisis, the war between India and Pakistan, the military takeover in Greece. The first three interviews rise out of the Vietnam War: Henry Kissinger, shortly before Richard M. Nixon named him secretary of state and put him in charge of peace negotiations, South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu, and North Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap. These interviews set the pattern that Fallaci followed, with some variation, in each of the others: The subject is often a man or woman who is involved in a violent political conflict and works for or against the forces of oppression. Frequently, the interviewee is a public figure from whom it is extremely difficult to obtain an interview, as with each of the first three subjects, and who subsequently tries to disavow his or her careless declarations. Fallaci recounts the story of each interview and its aftermath in brief introductory essays.

The...

(The entire section is 715 words.)