“The moment you give up your principles, and your values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period.” —Oriana Fallaci

Oriana Fallaci
Oriana Fallaci

A little timely advice from 1960s icon Oriana Fallaci—Bel Istoria’s Woman of the Month. Known for her provocative coverage of war and revolution from the 60s through the 80s, Fallaci captured interviews with the world’s most interesting leaders, including Yassar Arafat, Muammar Gaddafi, Indira Gandhi, Ayatollah Khomeni, Henry Kissinger, Golda Meir, Lech Walesa, and Deng Xiaoping—to name just a few.

Born in 1929 in Florence, Fallaci followed her father’s activist roots to join an underground anti-fascist resistance movement, where she carried explosives and delivered messages at the tender age of 14. She began writing for an Italian newspaper while still in her teens. She briefly studied chemistry, literature, and medicine at University of Florence before dropping out to pursue a journalism career as a special correspondent for L’Europeo, among other assignments. 

Fallaci cut her teeth on coverage of the Vietnam War, where she found within herself “the perverse fascination writers can develop for war.” Sometimes photographed in fatigues and helmut, her rucksack bore handwritten instructions to return her body to the Italian Ambassador “if K.I.A.”

Fallaci in Tehra
Oriana Fallaci in Tehran

She was fearless in her pursuit of the truth. She famously said “Being a journalist means being disobedient.”  In Mexico City, during the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, Fallaci was shot three times by Mexican soldiers, dragged downstairs by her hair, and left for dead. She was no less brave in her interviews, for example, calling Khomeini a tyrant to his face and removing her chador (which she referred to as a “stupid medievel rag”) in the interview.

In her later years, Fallaci continued to court controversy with her switch to social conservatism. At age 76, Fallaci had a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI. She died a year later.

Books by Oriana Fallaci

A Man
Interview with History
Letter to a Child Never Born
Nothing, and So Be It
The Force of Reason
The Rage & the Pride

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