Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

 See the
Conversations with History Blog

See also: a second interview with
Danner on Ideas and Leadership
in US Foreign Policy
(May 1999),
a "Mark Danner practicum" on
The Art of the Rewrite, and a
partial list of publications.

Being a Writer: Conversation with Mark Danner, staff writer, The New Yorker; 3/3/99 by Harry Kreisler.

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I am Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Mark Danner, a staff writer for the New Yorker specializing in foreign affairs. He has worked on the staff of the New York Review of Books, as senior editor of Harper's Magazine, as foreign affairs editor of The New York Times Magazine. He has co-written and co-produced two hour-long, award-winning documentaries for ABC News Peter Jennings Report. Mark is a frequent contributor to major magazines and is a frequent guest on news analysis television programs. He is the author of The Massacre at El Mozote and Beyond the Mountains: The Legacy of Duvalier. During the 1998-99 academic year he is a visiting professor at the School of Journalism and the Human Rights Center.

  1. Background ... influence of parents ... values ... high school editor ... books read ... editing at Harper's ... first piece on Haiti
  2. Writing about History ... importance of history ... integrating history into the narrative ... policy implications of historical ignorance ... examples: Cold War strategy in the Vietnam war; domestic politics and Vietnam war policy; Haiti
  3. Writing as Reportage ... privileged space of the reporter ... making events understandable
  4. Writing as a Creative Act ... telling the story ... music analogy ... grabbing the reader ... convergence of events: the story of Colonel Monterrosa ... organizing material: Clinton's moral blindness on Bosnia
  5. The Use of Words ... by governments and politicians ... by writers ... by inexperienced diplomats
  6. Coaxing Out the Story ... establishing trust in interviews ... holding readers' interest ... moral implications ... untapped power of American readers
  7. Advice to Students

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