The New New Journalism
Robert S. Boynton
Ted Conover
Richard Ben Cramer
Leon Dash
William Finnegan
Jonathan Harr
Alex Kotlowitz
Jon Krakauer
Jane Kramer
William Langewiesche
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Michael Lewis
Susan Orlean
Richard Preston
Ron Rosenbaum
Eric Schlosser
Gay Talese
Calvin Trillin
Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Wright
News and ReviewsRobert S. BoyntonAbout the BookRobert S. BoyntonContactRobert S. BoyntonBuy The New New JournalismRobert S. Boynton
by Robert S. Boynton

           In William Finnegan's writing there is often a turning point, an aporia, when the author realizes his assumptions have been skewed and all is not as it seems. The war in Somalia hasn't simply devastated the country, it's also brought forth a strange but bustling form of wild-frontier capitalism; Mozambique's rebel army isn't merely a proxy force supplied by neighbors, but a dark, complicated brew concocted from indigenous African ingredients. A self-described "specialist in the unexpected," Finnegan writes stereotype-defying descriptions of the kinds of people —
           Born in New York City in 1952, Finnegan moved between Los Angeles and Hawaii while growing up. His father worked in the movie business, and it was during these years that Finnegan developed his love of surfing -a preoccupation that would later inspire him to travel the world in search of the perfect wave.
           After receiving a BA in English literature at the University of California in Santa Cruz, Finnegan spent the next four years traveling through South Asia, Australia, and, finally, Africa. He was strapped for money when he reached Cape Town, where he got a job as an English teacher at the Grassy Park High School, a non-European school whose students gave him his first close look at the world of apartheid.
           It was in South Africa that Finnegan, who until then thought of himself as a novelist, became interested, suddenly and almost exclusively, in political nonfiction. His first piece of political journalism was a long Mother Jones essay about his experience living in Sri Lanka in 1979. Finnegan's year at Grassy Park coincided with a nationwide school boycott, which became the subject of his first book, Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid (1986).
           In 1986 The New Yorker, for which Finnegan had started writing in 1984 (he became a staff writer in 1987), sent him back to South Africa, where, unbeknownst to its owners, he attached himself to a group of black South African reporters at the white, liberal Johannesburg Star. These reporters became the lens through which Finnegan observed the country and his two-part series was subsequently published as Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters (1988).
           During the nineties, Finnegan alternated between foreign and domestic pieces, covering wars in Somalia, Sudan, and former Yugoslavia, and writing portraits of places—New Haven, East Texas, suburban L. A.—that proved his compassion and reporting skills were as applicable to America as they were to foreign countries. Finnegan refashioned these pieces into Cold New World, in which he offered a bleak assessment of the lives of young Americans—black, Mexican, neo-Nazi—all living in poverty of varying kinds. Despite America's affluence, he argues, the very people who should most be benefiting from the surging stock market are experiencing a general decline into a state of anomie.
           Finnegan is currently working on a surfing-themed memoir about male friendship.


Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, Penguin Press, 2015
Cold New World: Growing Up in a Harder Country, Random House, 1998
A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique, University of California Press, 1992
Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters, Harper & Row, 1988; University of California Press, 1995
Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid, Harper & Row, 1986; University of California Press, 1994 buy


"Climbing With Molly", Audible Originals, 2019

"Can Beto Bounce Back?", The New Yorker, May 27, 2019

"A Reporter At Large: Kelly Slater's Shock Wave", The New Yorker, December 17, 2018

"California Burning", The New York Review of Books, August 16, 2018

"Annals of Law: Taking Down Terrorists in Court", The New Yorker, May 15, 2017

"Mr. Nick Baker Teaches Today—Listen", The New York Review of Books, March 23, 2017

"Letter from Venezuela: Venezuala, a Failing State", The New Yorker, November 14, 2016

"Donald Trump and the "Amazing" Alex Jones", The New Yorker, June 23, 2016

"Campaign Trade Wars", The New Yorker, March 30, 2016

"America in a Time of Campaign Violence", The New Yorker, May 12, 2016

"Reporter at Large: Last Days Preparing for the apocalypse in San Bernardino.", The New Yorker, February 26, 2016

"The Latino Vote, in Nevada and Beyond", The New Yorker, February 23, 2016

"Talk of the Town: Post-Code", The New Yorker, December 21, 2015

"The Escalating Slurs of Donald Trump", The New Yorker, December 3, 2015

"Surf for Love, Not for Gold", The New York Times, October 30, 2015

"Profiles: The Man Who Wouldn’t Sit Down", The New Yorker, October 5, 2015

"Why Does Obama Want This Trade Deal So Badly?", The New Yorker, June 11, 2015

"Personal History: Off Diamond Head", The New Yorker, June 1, 2015

"Letter from Peru: Tears of the Sun", The New Yorker, April 20, 2015

"Andrew Sullivan Shuts a Door", The New Yorker, February 11, 2015

"What’s Stopping Loretta Lynch?", The New Yorker, February 5, 2015

"Demonizing the Minimum Wage", The New Yorker, September 17, 2014

"A Reporter at Large: Dignity", The New Yorker, September 15, 2014

"The Sporting Scene: The Man Without a Mask", The New Yorker, September 1, 2014

"Profiles: The Miner's Daughter", The New Yorker, March 25, 2013

"Letter From Wisconsin: The Storm", The New Yorker, March 5, 2012

"Letter From Madagascar: Slow and Steady", The New Yorker, January 23, 2012

"At the Shore: Local Hero", The New Yorker, September 5, 2011

"Talk of the Town: Hurricane Returns", The New Yorker, April 4, 2011

"Letter from Tijuana: In the Name of the Law", The New Yorker, October 18, 2010

"Comment: Borderlines", The New Yorker, July 26, 2010

"Letter From Mexico: Silver or Lead", The New Yorker, May 31, 2010

"Letter from Honduras: An Old-Fashioned Coup", The New Yorker, November 30, 2009

"Profiles: The Secret Keeper", The New Yorker, October 19, 2009

"Profiles: Sheriff Joe", The New Yorker, July 20, 2009

"Barren’s End", The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2009

"A Reporter At Large: The Last Tour", The New Yorker, September 29, 2008

"Fitness Department: Kranking It", The New Yorker, August 4, 2008

"A Reporter At Large: The Countertrafficers", The New Yorker, May 5, 2008

"Letter From Kosovo: The Countdown", The New Yorker, October 15, 2007

"Double-Cross in the Congo", The New York Review of Books, April 12, 2007

"Letter From Maine: Somali refugees find a home", The New Yorker, December 11, 2006

"Talk of the Town: Catching an E-Wave", The New Yorker, December 4, 2006

"The Sporting Scene: Blank Monday", The New Yorker, August 21, 2006

"A Reporter At Large: Watching the Waterfront", The New Yorker, June 19, 2006

"Annals of Crime: A Theft in the Library", The New Yorker, October 17, 2005

"A Reporter At Large: The Terrorism Beat", The New Yorker, July 25, 2005

"The Candidate—How far can Barack Obama go?", The New Yorker, May 31, 2004

"Letter from Miami: The Cuban Strategy—Can Jeb Bush deliver the Florida vote in November?", The New Yorker, March 15, 2004

"Underground Man—Can the former C.I.A. agent who saved New York’s subway get the Tube back on track?", The New Yorker, February 9, 2004

"Marches and Parades", The New Yorker, May 19, 2003

"The Economics of Empire: Notes on the Washington Consensus", Harper’s, May 2003

"The Fire Last Time", The New York Times Book Review, March 23, 2003

"The Political Scene: Castro’s Shadow", The New Yorker, October 14 & 21, 2002

"Department of Amplification: A Verdict in South Africa", The New Yorker, April 22, 2002

"Letter from Bolivia: Leasing the Rain", The New Yorker, April 8, 2002

"A Reporter At Large: The Poison Keeper", The New Yorker, January 15, 2001

"The Sporting Life: Pole Vaulting", The New Yorker, August 21 & 28, 2000

"Our Far-Flung Correspondents: After Seattle", The New Yorker, April 17, 2000

"Profiles: A Slave in New York", The New Yorker, January 24, 2000

"Letter from the Balkans: The Next War", The New Yorker, September 20, 1999

"Wars and the Man", The New Yorker, April 19, 1999

"A Reporter At Large: The Invisible War", The New Yorker, January 25, 1999

"Onward and Upward with the Arts: Rocket Science", The New Yorker, November 16, 1998

"A Reporter At Large: Defending the Unabomber", The New Yorker, March 16, 1998

"A Reporter At Large: The Unwanted", The New Yorker, December 1, 1997

"A Reporter At Large: The New Americans", The New Yorker, March 25, 1996

"Letter from Bosnia: Salt City", The New Yorker, February 12, 1996

"The Victor in Bosnia", The New Yorker, October 9, 1995

"Promises, Promises", The New Yorker, August 7, 1995

"No Peace to Keep", The New Yorker, June 12, 1995

"Letter from Mogadishu: A World of Dust", The New Yorker, March 20, 1995

"The Liberator", The New York Review of Books, February 2, 1995

"The Election Mandela Lost", The New York Review of Books, October 20, 1994

"Court Convenes", The New Yorker, September 19, 1994

"The Silent Majority of Cape Town", Granta, Summer 1994

"Doubt", The New Yorker, January 31, 1994

"A Minimum of Sense", The New Yorker, January 24, 1994

"Slouching Towards Bosnia", The New Yorker, November 8, 1993

"A Last Chance", The New Yorker, July 26, 1993

"The Economics of Peace", The New Yorker, April 19, 1993

"Quiet Voices from the Balkans", The New Yorker, March 15, 1993

"The Choices in Bosnia", The New Yorker, January 25, 1993

"A Fondness for the Gallows", The New Yorker, November 30, 1992

"'There Is Something Wrong in the Paradise'", Transition, Volume 55, 1992

"A Reporter At Large: Catalonia", The New Yorker, September 28, 1992

"The Sporting Scene: Playing Doc's Games", The New Yorker, August 24 & 31, 1992

"A Reporter At Large: Out There", The New Yorker, September 10 & 17, 1990

"A Reporter At Large: The Emergency", The New Yorker, May 22 & 29, 1989

"A Reporter At Large: Getting the Story", The New Yorker, July 7 & 14, 1987

"Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?", The New Yorker, July 9 & 16, 2018

Interviews and Reviews

The New Yorker writer on the politics of surfing, reporting from war zones, and the “weird game” of memoir Waving, Not Drowning Nika Knight interviews William Finnegan, Guernica, August 3, 2015

Bill Finnegan talks about his New Yorker article about human trafficking, May 5, 2008

William Finnegan discusses the recent history of the region and the outlook for an independent Kosovo. Waiting to Secede, October 15, 2007

Bill Finnegan talks about mobsters, terrorists, and the port-security threat with The New Yorker's Amy Davidson The Docks of New York, June 19, 2006

Defending the City Q&A with The New Yorker, July 25, 2005

“Code Street,” Talk of the Nation, NPR, September 1, 1999

Bell, Amanda, “A Brave New Look at the Other America,” Yale Review of Books, Fall 1998

Interview about Cold New World, Morning Edition, NPR, June 17, 1998

Review of Cold New World, King, Resa, “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” Business Week, June 1, 1998

Review of Cold New World, Robert Christgau, “Growing Up, Kept Down,” Orig. published in the Village Voice, May 12, 1998

© Robert S. Boynton