Joan Didion is the author, most recently, of Blue Nights and The Year of Magical Thinking, among seven other works of nonfiction. Her five novels include A Book of Common Prayer and Democracy.
 (May 2016)


California Notes

This is not about Patricia Hearst. It is about me and the peculiar vacuum in which I grew up, a vacuum in which the Hearsts could be quite literally king of the hill.

The Deferential Spirit

Every reporter, in the development of a story, depends on and coddles, or protects, his or her sources. Only when the protection of the source gets in the way of telling the story does the reporter face a professional, even a moral, choice: he can blow the source and move to another beat or he can roll over, shape the story to continue serving the source. The necessity for making this choice between the source and the story seems not to have come up in the course of writing Mr. Woodward’s books, for good reason: since he proceeds from a position in which the very impulse to sort through the evidence and reach a conclusion is seen as suspect, something to be avoided in the higher interest of fairness, he has been able, consistently and conveniently, to define the story as that which the source tells him.

Obama: In the Irony-Free Zone

The following pieces are adapted from comments made at “What Happens Now: The 2008 Election,” a symposium at the New York Public Library on November 10, 2008, presented by The New York Review and sponsored by the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and Live from …

On Elizabeth Hardwick (1916–2007)

Darryl Pinckney In the fall of 1973, she told her creative writing students at Barnard College, “There are really only two reasons to write: desperation or revenge.” She used to tell us that we couldn’t be writers if we couldn’t be told no, if we couldn’t take rejection. We supposed, …

Cheney: The Fatal Touch

A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs

by Theodore Draper

Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

by Richard A. Clarke
It was in some ways predictable that the central player in the system of willed errors and reversals that is the Bush administration would turn out to be its vice-president, Richard B. Cheney. Here was a man with considerable practice in the reversal of his own errors. He was never …