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  • New Book on Italian Oriana Fallaci Makes Readers Feel They Are in Her Story

    Discover the life and work of one of the world's greatest journalists in this latest biography
    Our Paesani

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Oriana Fallaci With her uncle Bruno Fallaci and other colleagues from the magazine Epoca
    With her uncle Bruno Fallaci and other colleagues from the magazine Epoca
    Permission from family archives, Private Archive Peraz.
    Oriana Fallaci was a famous Italian journalist. Having grown up in poverty in Florence, she rose to prominence, thanks to old-fashioned hard work and just a little bit of sass. Indeed, she was ahead of her time. Fallaci became a reporter at a moment in world history when women were expected to raise children, cook, clean, and be quiet.

    This unconventional ambition followed by great success makes the biography Oriana Fallaci: The Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend (October 2017) by Cristina De Stefano a worthy read. What makes the book so special is the fact that it is written in a similar way to the profiles Fallaci herself had written. Vivid details are well placed throughout the text. They give readers the feeling of being there with Fallaci. Sometimes, the meaning gets lost in translation. But I had the feeling I was not missing anything as I read about her exceptional life.

    Often, when a person becomes a household name, the public takes for granted whatever led to the notoriety. Whether the person is good or bad, people just never learn about the history that brought her to this place.

    What readers of this book will appreciate is discovering the struggle Fallaci faced. This is especially true in the early days of her life and career (not to mention the early pages of the book). From the start, Fallaci broke all the rules of journalism as we Americans know them.

    Along with her family, Fallaci was a fierce anti-Fascist. She often spoke out and wrote about their political stance. Her uncle Bruno was a well-known journalist, too. Neither of them had made secret their political positions. That never seemed to bother anyone; objectivity never was a tenant of Italian journalism, or at least not in the way it is in the United States.

    In addition, Fallaci never apologized for being a woman. And she did not feel limited by her gender either. To overcome the perception others had of her because she was female and slight of frame, she worked 10 times harder than everyone else. As a child, she devoured books. Once she started writing professionally, she took any and every assignment she could get.

    During Oriana Fallaci's famous interview with Khomeini in September of 1979, in which she removed her veil in protest
    During her famous interview with Khomeini in September of 1979, in which she removed her veil in protest.
    Permission from family archives, Private Archive Peraz.
    A lover of travel, Fallaci would go anywhere editors would send her. Among friends, Fallaci became known for always working and turning every experience into a published piece.

    At the beginning of her career, she was forced to write about gossip and the frivolity of the Hollywood elite, assignments thought to be the work of women. Still, Fallaci did not get discouraged. She made a point of going to New York and Los Angeles and staking out celebrities. She embedded herself in their lives. Her persistence paid off.

    The stars began socializing with her, inviting her to their homes. What she learned about them became provocative profiles. These writings would set her up for the political profiles, such as her famous one with Khomeini, which was the work of her dreams. Certainly, those political interviews are the ones for which she became a legend.

    Fallaci was a bit before her time and certainly before mine. But over the years I have always been intrigued by her life and work. This latest biography tells the story we already know. But it also adds new depth and detail. It brought Fallaci's world to life for me and gave me more perspective on her personal history.

    I recommend you pick up a copy of the book or offer it to one of your friends particularly women looking for inspiration as a holiday gift or just because. Let's hope, we can all recognize the need to put everything we have into our life's work. Her passion and determination were unmatched. From Fallaci, I learn to never let anyone tell me my dreams are impossible because of my gender. That's a lesson we always need but especially at this moment in time.

    Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.

    Article Published 11/20/17

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