RECENT WORK (Selected)


"There Will Always Be Fires," Harper’s, August 2018.

“All fires, even at the smallest scale, are tales of cascading cause and effect, the products of a chain reaction. Oxygen, fuel, and heat, each in sufficient proportion, will ignite into fire, releasing more heat, igniting more fuel and oxygen, releasing more heat, and so on. A bad wildfire is the consequence of still further chain reactions, a small fire that sets off a stronger fire that sets off a fire that is stronger still—a succession of cataclysms, each more terrible than the last and each opening the way to something more terrible than itself.”

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"Did We Adopt a Jihadist?" GQ, November 2017.

"He believed quite strongly in the boy's potential for violence; in Syria, such children had been merciless with him. But he also suspected that, away from his homeland and the jihad, and the ethical accommodations that any war imposes, a young Syrian killer might be something quite innocuous. The violence in Syria was only the handmaiden to something more powerful, it seemed to him, some raging elemental force that had billowed up over the territory like a storm and seized control of the inhabitants below. 'The place is under a spell,' Padnos said. Sweden was not."

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"How Marine Le Pen Played the Media," The Guardian Long Read, April 2017.

"Like her father, Marine Le Pen has proven herself an exceptional broadcast personality, born with a blood instinct for the minor hypocrisies of her on-air opponents, and a quick-thinking talent for transforming them into grand theatrical indictments. She has inherited her father’s unconscious smirk, which often serves as notice that she has just concocted some particularly clever bit of verbal violence. Like him, too, she tends to jut her jaw and bare her lower teeth when speaking, which can lend her the slight air of a bulldog. The French say she has gouaille, which might be translated as 'cheekiness,' but is a term applied almost exclusively to women, evocative of late evenings at a Paris bistro counter, cigarettes, red wine and a certain bawdy self-assurance. Le Pen in action is good, if discomfiting, television."

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"Whatever Happened to France's Famed 'Liberté'?," The New York Times, March 2017.

"The ease with which the normalization has proceeded in France surely has much to do with the comforts of modern, democratic life, and the tendency to retreat into them. One has little need of rights in one’s cocoon. Comforts aside, the French mood is one of grievance. Justifiably, many French feel themselves the victims of economic stagnation, of cultural decline, of a blinkered and self-satisfied ruling class. It is perhaps naïve to hope that those invested in their own sense of hardship might summon the moral energy to consider, let alone protest, the woes of others."

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"The Untold Story of the Bastille Day Attacker," GQ, February 2017. 

“Some in Nice knew the man as one of the many playboy predators the city seems to beget—black hair slicked back off a shining brow, dress shoes tapering to varnished points, a dark shirt unbuttoned low to reveal the pectorals into which he had obsessively, unblushingly, invested himself. He was 31 but preferred older women, both for their erotic openness and, it seems clear, for their money. Those who knew him best knew him to be a cold and brutal man, detached, amused by little save rough sex and gore.”

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"How Europe's 'Little Losers' Became Terrorists," The Atlantic (online), May 2016. 

“In Kelkal, France and Europe might have identified a herald of what was to come, an early prototype for the weak and desperate young men, transfixed by ultra-violence and the promise of self-affirmation it contains, who are now terrorizing the continent.”

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"The Ultimate Terrorist Factory," Harper's, January 2016. 

“This was my precious DREAM. Can you imagine the good fortune to have a whole virgin country ready to be drawn, shaped, adorned, instructed, constructed, repainted in the colors of an enlightened and intelligently modern Islam! Can you imagine?”

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"The Fragile French Republic," The Atlantic (online), November 2015.

Among Parisians, one senses a quiet resolve to fall back into routines and social habits, not only because they must, but because they should, and can—because the so-called Islamic State is not an existential threat to Paris or to France, unless the French choose to give themselves over to hysteria.

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"The Charlie Hebdo I Know," The Atlantic (online), January 2015.

One may mourn the dead and condemn their senseless slaughter, and hail their courage in carrying out a mission in which they deeply believed, without celebrating the magazine for virtues it did not espouse.