Cristina de Stefano translated from the Italian by Marina Harss

Oriana Fallaci

The Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend

Publication Date: Oct 17, 2017

304 pp


ISBN: 978-1-59051-787-1


List Price US $25.95
Trim Size (H x W): 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-59051-786-4

A landmark biography of the famous Italian journalist, an inspiring and controversial woman who defied the codes of reportage and established the “La Fallaci” style of interview

Oriana Fallaci is known for her uncompromising vision. To retrace Fallaci’s life is to retrace the course of history from World War II to 9/11.

As a child, Fallaci enlisted in the Italian Resistance alongside her father. Her hatred of fascism and authoritarian regimes remained strong throughout her life. Covering the entertainment industry early in her career, she created an original, abrasive interview style, focusing on her subject’s emotions, contradictions, and facial expressions more than their words. When she grew bored with movie stars and directors, she turned her attention to the international political figures of the time: Khomeini, Gaddafi, Indira Gandhi, and Kissinger, always placing herself at the front and center of the story. Also a war reporter working wherever there was conflict, she would provoke her own controversies, leaving epic collateral damage in her wake.

With unprecedented access to personal records, Cristina De Stefano brings to life this remarkable woman whose groundbreaking work and torrid love affairs are not easily forgotten. Oriana Fallaci allows a new generation to know her story and witness the passionate, unstinting journalism so urgently needed in these times of upheaval and uncertainty.

Excerpt from Oriana Fallaci

In Vietnam, Oriana had emerged as a political correspondent; this led into a period of interviews with the most powerful men of the world. She uses the same techniques that she has perfected since her first visit to Hollywood. These are the “Fallaci Interviews,” which will be studied in journalism schools thereafter. It has taken years to get to this point. “At first they didn’t allow me to write about politics because I was too young and because I was a woman, but in the end I imposed my will.”

Now that she has become a famous journalist she is able to invent a new way of talking about politics—irreverent, direct, and personal. “I kept arguing that ‘we need to talk about politics in a different way.’ People don’t read political articles because they’re boring. Politics isn’t boring; it’s entertaining, even funny. So why write about it in a boring way?”

L’Europeo considers her its star reporter. She covers the Indo-Pakistani war and the Maoist uprising in Hong Kong. Then she travels to the Middle East to cover the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and to South America to write about guerrilla groups fighting against various dictatorships. She quickly becomes famous for her courage and her combative spirit. A colleague remembers, “During the war between India and Pakistan, while we were following the Sikh troops and the Gurkhas, she took a different route. She got on a rickety boat and sailed up the Brahmaputra and arrived in Dhaka at the moment the dictator’s troops were killing their prisoners and burying them in common graves. Some were still alive. She made such a fuss that it was a miracle they didn’t shoot her.”

“Someone should write an opera about her: La Fallaci, beautiful extravagant, courageous survivor of war and tempestuous love affairs, speaker of truth to power. But for now, Cristina De Stefano’s new biography of the Italian journalistic superstar Oriana Fallaci—unabashed hagiography to counter the writer’s late-life reputational demise—must suffice…Fallaci was a piquant, stylish beauty, self-consciously photogenic in the Joan Didion way, a midcentury woman writer vigilant about her public image. Fallaci lives a genuinely romantic life, too, with stormy loves and war wounds. But De Stefano, who had access to living friends, family members and colleagues as well as archives and letters, reveals another side to her life.” —New York Times Book Review 

“It’s the first authorized biography we have of Fallaci, with access to new personal records, and welcome for that reason…it gets her story onto the page and, thanks to its subject, is never dull.” —New York Times 

“A new biography gets Oriana Fallaci the way people who knew her couldn’t.” —Los Angeles Times 

“In this meticulous, perceptive, and dramatic portrait, De Stefano reveals the full intensity and sensitivity of a trailblazing warrior writer.” —Booklist (starred review)

“In her authorized biography, Oriana Fallaci: The Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend Cristina De Stefano reminds readers of Fallaci’s journalistic legacy.” —Wall Street Journal

“Italian journalist de Stefano peels away the layers of mystery surrounding journalist Oriana Fallaci, whose career broke boundaries for women in her field…[De Stefano] applied the same dogged tenacity to this biography that defined Fallaci’s work, and in the end de Stefano gained access to a large swathe of archival material, family records, and previously unpublished personal testimonies. Written in the present tense, the book allows readers to get to know Fallaci as she progresses in her career rather than in the context of the notoriety she garnered in her later years. This is an intimate investigation into a larger-than-life personality who, in the end, was just another lonely soul.” Publishers Weekly
“The great Italian writer gets her due in this short but captivating biography. Oriana Fallaci played a unique role in international journalism in the latter half of the 20th century…De Stefano diligently attempts to reveal all sides of a complex and brilliant figure…this is a superb introduction to the life of an irreplaceable figure.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Exceptional…this biography is a must read.” —Lit Hub 

“Cristina De Stefano’s new book Oriana Fallaci: The Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend takes a fresh look at the exceptional life and career of Fallaci, while also revealing a softer side of the notoriously hard-headed and private intellectual. “ —Women in the World, New York Times affiliate

“It is the first major work to emerge in English since its subject’s death…and offers the most readable and approachable overview of Fallaci’s life yet available. —Standpoint Magazine 

“Biographer Christina De Stefano has written a fine portrait of Fallaci that is indeed, a la Fallaci, in its sharp journalistic style …De Stefano takes us inside Fallaci’s turbulent personal life and her formidable accomplishments as a skilled and courageous foreign correspondent. It is a potent reminder that real journalists were valued for much more than a sensational scoop or headline, and like Fallaci they put everything on the line at great personal cost for their chosen profession and craft.” —New York Journal of Books 

“Cristina de Stefano’s comprehensive yet terse biography Oriana Fallaci is rightly subtitled: ‘The Journalist, The Agitator, The Legend.’…De Stefano’s authoritative examination, translated from the Italian by Marina Harris and with access to Fallaci’s personal papers as an authorized bio, offers bracing insight into a woman who defied convention and often common sense…Fallaci’s era is over but the stories remain as vivid as her adventure-filled life. ” —Boston Herald 

“Fallaci’s tumultuous life is difficult to sum up in a single book, but de Stefano’s work offers a deeply perceptive insight into the fascinating Italian journalist, delivered in a riveting and engaging narrative style that’s evocative of Fallaci herself.” —PopMatters 

“In Oriana Fallaci you will find everything that you expect to read…and also many unpublished discoveries…There is no doubt, however, that the romantic, tragic ,and absolute…Oriana Fallaci is the true revelation of Cristina De Stefano.” —Il Giornale

“Here is the book that those who loved Oriana Fallaci awaited…the first and only authorized biography of an icon of journalism, told starting from the private, with sensitivity, intelligence, and precision by Cristina De Stefano.” —Marie Claire (Italy)

“This is a terrific book about courage, ambition and old-fashioned Italian chutzpah.  These are the qualities that made Oriana Fallaci one of the most celebrated journalists of her time. This is a compelling biography of a pioneer of journalistic fearlessness.” —Charles Kaiser, author of The Cost of Courage

“This is a gripping account of the controversial Italian journalist’s rise from schoolgirl Partisan courier to courageous war reporter, celebrated author and the world’s most feared and admired interviewer. Cristina De Stefano brings to life all the public success and private struggles of a woman who battled her way to the top of a world shaped by men, taking on Henry Kissinger, Muammar Gaddafi, and Ayatollah Khomeini along the way. Oriana Fallaci is as vivid, bold and endlessly surprising as its subject.” —Rachel Aspden, author of Generation Revolution