Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Tina Brown says the fate of Afghan women — like these, voting in their country's presidential election in August — isn't a high enough priority in the debate over U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
Tina Brown says the fate of Afghan women — like these, voting in their country's presidential election in August — isn't a high enough priority in the debate over U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
If you're looking for some compelling reading online, The Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown is here to help. Two of her favorite reads revolve around Islamic fundamentalism; a third is a revealing look at writer Harold Pinter.
As Brown tells NPR's Steve Inskeep, one of her favorite bits of new magazine writing is "Anatomy of a Siege" by Marie Brenner, on the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.
The Vanity Fair article chronicles a very long and fateful day at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel.
"She writes in this wonderfully cinematic style," Brown says.
The article inundates readers in the lives and details of the people caught up in the attack.
"When a catastrophe hits, we often wonder, 'How would we have fared in a siege?' " she says.
"[Brenner] introduces you to these characters, and describes what happened to them as their fate gradually closed in on them," she says.
"I think the test of a good magazine story," Inskeep says, "is that by the time I get to the end, I feel like I didn't know the story at all."
"Well, I agree," Brown said. "I think she's done an amazing job about that."
Brown has been writing columns at The Daily Beast about Afghanistan, and particularly about Afghan women. She says she's bothered that Afghan women haven't been part of the discussion about what the U.S. and its allies should do in Afghanistan.
"I'm not suggesting that we should all necessarily stay in Afghanistan simply for the plight of women there," she says, "but I do think we should stop regarding them as simply the collateral damage of war, and remind ourselves that if we do pull out of Afghanistan, we cast them back into the darkness from which they've only recently been released."
She says liberating the potential of women is not some kind of luxury, "but actually is a great weapon against the encroachment of radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan."
Brown has also been impressed with Intelligent Life, a new title published by The Economist in Britain that is also available online. In particular, Irving Wardle's memoir about Harold Pinter captures the flavor of a friendship, and helps fill in the life of an enigmatic figure in modern literature.
In addition to living near one another, the two writers — one a playwright, the other a drama critic — developed a friendship that sometimes brought them together at a local pub.
Brown cites a favorite line from the piece, in which Wardle describes his affinity for Pinter: "He was the most visible person I ever met. ... In comparison with Harold, other people looked blurred."
"This is a marvelous memoir, a kind of personal history sort of piece I haven't seen lately in American magazines," she says.
And when it's done well, she says, "There is really nothing more enjoyable."