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
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by Robert S. Boynton


           Many journalists felt a new sense of professional relevance after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, none more so than Lawrence Wright. Wright lived in Cairo from 1969 to 1971, speaks some Arabic, and has spent much of his career writing about the vicissitudes of religious faith. Watching the attacks on television, Wright hoped that it wasn't a Middle East terrorist strike. "I was nagged by the likelihood that a culture I was very fond of had declared war on a culture that I was a part of," he says.
           Wright's advantage over others covering the story lies in his familiarity with Arabic culture and language, but also in his sensitivity to the role of belief in everyday life. "Spiritual matters are far more influential in people's lives than, for instance, politics, the mainstay of the journalist's craft," he writes in the preface to Saints & Sinners (1993). For Wright, religion isn't an oddity or irrational sentiment, but a subterranean force that informs and pervades all our actions.
           Lawrence George Wright was born in Oklahoma City on August 2, 1947. He was raised in Dallas, Texas and went to Tulane University. Wright received conscientious objector status in 1969, and instead of going to Vietnam, spent the next two years in Cairo teaching English and studying Arabic.
           His first reporting job was for the Race Relations Reporter in Nashville, and he later worked for Southern Voices, a publication of the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, Georgia. His first book, City Children, Country Summer (1979), chronicled a Fresh Air Fund program that sends inner-city children to live with farm families. In 1980, Wright was hired by Texas Monthly. His profiles of religious figures were collected in Saints & Sinners. In the New World: Growing Up with America, 1960-1984 (1988) was Wright's memoir of growing up in Dallas.
           In 1992, Wright became a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he published his most famous piece, "Remembering Satan", the story of Paul Ingram, the chief civil deputy of the Thurston County sheriff's department in Washington state, who was charged with sexually abusing his two daughters. The story won the National Magazine Award for reporting, as well as the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism.
           Wright's first post-September 11 piece for The New Yorker was about FBI agent John O'Neill, whose frustrations with the agency's inability to pursue Osama bin Laden, led him to resign from the agency and take a job as the chief of security for the World Trade Center, where he perished in the attacks.
           His next two New Yorker pieces reintroduced him to the Middle East. "The Man Behind bin Laden," his profile of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, took him to Cairo, where he traced the origins of al Qaeda and its terrorist ideology. In the spring of 2003, Wright got a job training young Saudi reporters at the Saudi Gazette. The resulting article, "The Kingdom of Silence," paints an ominous picture of a socially repressed and psychologically depressed culture.
           Wright's account of the events leading up to September 11, 2001, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, published in August 2006 by Knopf, was a National Book Award finalist, and was chosen as one of 2007's ten best books by both The New York Times and the Washington Post. It won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, Canada's Lionel Gelber prize, and the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction.



BOOKS

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Knopf, 2013
buy
buy
The Looming Tower : Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Knopf, 2006
buy
buy
God’s Favorite, Simon & Schuster, 2000
buy
buy
Twins and What They Tell Us About Who We Are, Wiley, 1997
buy
buy
Remembering Satan: A case of recovered memory and the shattering of an American family, Knopf, 1994
buy
buy
Saints & Sinners: Walker Railey, Jimmy Swaggart, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Anton La Vey, Will Campbell, Matthew Fox, Knopf, 1993
buy
buy
In The New World: Growing Up with America, 1960–1984, Knopf, 1988
buy
buy
City Children, Country Summer, Scribner, 1979
buy
buy

ARTICLES

" Comment: The Al Qaeda Switchboard", The New Yorker, January 13, 2014

"As Mubarak Lay Dying", The New Yorker.com, June 20, 2012

"Two Questions at the Heart of Bin Laden’s Jihad", Bloomberg View, September 8, 2011

"Comment: A Different Kind of Texan", The New Yorker, August 29, 2011

"Newsdesk: Zawahiri at the Helm", The New Yorker, June 16, 2011

"Profiles: The Apostate", The New Yorker, February 14, 2011

"Notes and Comment: Intolerance", The New Yorker, September 20, 2010

"A Reporter At Large: Lithium Dreams", The New Yorker, March 22, 2010

"Letter From Gaza: Captives", The New Yorker, November 9, 2009

"Profile: The Oligarch", The New Yorker, June 1, 2009

"A Reporter At Large: The Rebellion Within", The New Yorker, June 2, 2008

"A Reporter At Large: The Spymaster", The New Yorker, January 21, 2008

"Comment: Ask the Iraqis", The New Yorker, October 22, 2007

"Lady Bird’s Lost Legacy", The New York Times, July 20, 2007

"The Trials of the Century", The New York Times, September 22, 2006

"Annals of Terrorism: The Master Plan", The New Yorker, September 11, 2006

"A Reporter At Large: The Agent", The New Yorker, July 10 & 17, 2006

"War Department: The Terrorist", The New Yorker, June 19, 2006

"Letter From Damascus: Captured on Film", The New Yorker, May 15, 2006

"The Terror Web", The New Yorker, August 2, 2004

"The Kingdom of Silence", The New Yorker, January 5, 2004

"The Man Behind Bin Laden", The New Yorker, September 16, 2002

"Lives of the Saints", The New Yorker, January 21, 2002

"The Counter-Terrorist", The New Yorker, January 14, 2002

"Forcing the End", The New Yorker, July 20, 1998

"Silent Sperm", The New Yorker, January 15, 1996

"A Rapist’s Homecoming", The New Yorker, September 4, 1995

"Who’s What? The Crazy World of Racial Identification", Utne Reader, November/December 1994

"Child-Care Demons", The New Yorker, October 3, 1994

"One Drop of Blood", The New Yorker, July 25, 1994

"Orphans of Jonestown", The New Yorker, November 22, 1993

"Remembering Satan (II)", The New Yorker, May 24, 1993

"Remembering Satan (I)", The New Yorker, May 17, 1993

"Remembrance of Things Primitive", Texas Monthly, February 1993

"Women and Men: Can We Get Along? Should We Even Try?", Utne Reader, January/February 1993

"Big D, Little H.R.P.", The New Yorker, October 26, 1992

"The Man from Texarkana", New York Times Magazine, June 28, 1992

"More Joy!", Utne Reader, March/April 1992

"It’s Not Easy Being Evil in a World That’s Gone to Hell", Rolling Stone, September 5, 1991

"The First Church of Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer", Rolling Stone, December 13–27, 1990

"Peace (III)", Rolling Stone, November 16, 1989

"Peace (II)", Rolling Stone, September 1, 1989

"Peace (I)", Rolling Stone, July 13–27, 1989

"Past Tense", Vogue, January 1989

"False Messiah", Rolling Stone, July 14–28, 1988

"The Sins of Walker Railey", Texas Monthly, January 1988

"Why We Liked Dick", Washington Monthly, December 1986

"The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan", Rolling Stone, April 11, 1985



Interviews and Reviews

Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright presents his personal recollection of President Kennedy's assassination at the JFK Symposium presented by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, Lawrence Wright on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assasination, November 18, 2013

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who took on the Church of Scientology in his most recent book, Going Clear, talks about the latest threats from the organization, the wild story of how he got hired by The New Yorker, and the special writing desk that How I Write, The Daily Beast, May 25, 2013

Lawrence Wright: Bin Laden's Death 'Long In Coming' Terry Gross interview on Fresh Air, May 2, 2011

Lawrence Wright talks with Terry Gross on Fresh Air The Church Of Scientology, Fact-Checked, February 8, 2011

Exploring September 11: The World Before and After Clifford Channin's eight part interview with Lawrence Wright, July 20, 2009

Lawrence Wright talks about McConnell’s ideas for reform, his views on privacy issues and torture, and the threats the intelligence community may confront in the future., The New Yorker Online, January 21, 2008

Lawrence Wright's 'Trip to Al-Qaeda' by Deborah Amos, NPR's Morning Edition, March 30, 2007

A clip from Lawrence Wright's one-man show, “My Trip to Al-Qaeda,” which he performed at the Culture Project, in New York City, March 2007

Stage Wright: His Trip To Al Qaeda, And Why Lawrence Wright Is Still Very, Very Scared Interview with the Huffington Post, March 9, 2007

NPR's "All Things Considered" Orwell on Writing: 'Clarity Is the Remedy', September 22, 2006

NPR's "All Things Considered" Book Explores Latest Jihadi Thinking, September 5, 2006

Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross Building a Terror Network, August 15, 2006

"Missed Opportunities." An interview with the New Yorker's Amy Davidson, The New Yorker Online, July 3, 2006

Audio Slide Show Big in Damascus, The New Yorker, May 15, 2006

Video Interview with Lawrence Wright about his forthcoming book, The Looming Tower, January 19, 2006

Interview with Mohammed Alkhereiji Asharq Al-Awsat , January 7, 2006,

“Al Qaeda Using Internet to Spread Terrorist Message,” Day to Day, NPR, July 27, 2004

“A Tangled Web We Weave,” The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC, July 27, 2004

“New Global Jihad,” On the Line, Voice of America, May 22, 2004

“Al Qaeda and Terrorism,” On the Line, Voice of America, February 14, 2004

“Teaching American-Style Journalism to Saudis,” Day to Day, NPR, January 6, 2004

Marvel, Bill, “High Profile: Lawrence George Wright,” Dallas Morning News, February 16, 2003

Wizda Vane, Sharyn, “Author Looks at Al Qaeda Tape,” The Austin American Stateman, May 23, 2002

Roberts, Cary L., “Double Take: Austin Scribe Lawrence Wright Tackles Noriega — Twice,” The Austin Chronicle, March 10, 2000

Lawrence Wright's testimony at Paul Ingram's Pardon Hearing, June 7, 1996



© Robert S. Boynton