b j woodworth

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What It Was Like Writing Tom Petty’s Life Story

Among the acts that Tom Petty took with him on the tour for his 1987 album, “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough),” was the Del Fuegos, a Boston-based roots-rock band with ties to the New York hardcore scene. That’s how, in a very roundabout way, Warren Zanes, a deputy professor at New York University, came …

The Limits of the Kurds’ War on ISIS

Kurdish officials said today that their troops had raised their flag over the city of Sinjar, pushing out the fighters from <i>ISIS</i> who had held it since the middle of last year. That’s very good news: <i>ISIS</i>’ men have killed, raped, and enslaved untold numbers of Sinjar’s residents since the group …

Terror Strikes in Paris

Ironies, some almost too painful to contemplate, fill the air the morning after terrorist attacks, claimed by the Islamic State and prosecuted by at least one French citizen, killed over a hundred Parisians. André Glucksmann, the philosopher, who died this week, was memorialized at length on Friday …

The Genesis and Growth of Global Jihad

The jihad by Muslim extremists against the West began at 1:05 <i>P.M.</i> on April 18, 1983, when a dark delivery van made a sharp left turn onto the cobblestone drive of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Instead of parking, the van—laden with explosives—accelerated, and rammed into the entrance. The explosion …

Where Clinton’s Post-Paris Debate Went Wrong

Hillary Clinton’s crucial misstep in the second Democratic debate, in Des Moines on Saturday, may have come about ten minutes in. The subject was Paris, which had been attacked the night before, with more than a hundred and twenty people dead. John Dickerson, the moderator, asked Clinton if the …

Do the Kochs Have Their Own Spy Network?

Five years ago, when <i>The New Yorker</i> published my piece “Covert Operations,” about the ambitious and secretive political network underwritten by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, the Koch brothers complained mightily about the story’s title, protesting that there was nothing at …

The Economics of Syrian Refugees

In the wake of last Friday’s attacks on Paris, much has been written about Syrian refugees, and the (remote) possibility that <i>ISIS</i>-affiliated jihadis might slip into the United States among the ten thousand displaced people (many of them children) that the Obama Administration has committed to …

Donald Trump and America’s Muslims

As you have doubtless noticed, the terrorist attacks in Paris have produced a rhetorical race to the bottom among the Republican candidates for President. Jeb Bush took an early lead in this descent by issuing a proposal that appeared to have been taken from the playbook of his elder brother …

The Mood in Paris After the Attacks

On Saturday night, there was almost no one on the Métro, except for lone tramps and beggars collapsed in corners. On Sunday, a friend of mine saw a man sitting by himself in a train carriage sobbing, and went to talk with him and commiserate. “I’m sorry,” the stranger kept saying, admitting, “I am …

Our Betrayal of Syrian and Iraqi Refugees

This week, David Bowers, the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, invoked the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War as justification for keeping out Iraqi and Syrian refugees. I wonder if the mayor (who later apologized to anyone he might have offended) would have paused …

Terror in Mali

Today's hostage crisis at the Radisson Blu Hotel, in the Malian capital of Bamako, where about a hundred people were held, has ended, with as many as twenty-seven deaths, according to a United Nations official. A joint operation by U.S. and Malian special forces ended the attack, which underscores …

Mali’s Hotel Hostage Siege

The Radisson Blu hotel, in Bamako, Mali, is the city’s finest: peach-colored brick, with a swirling pool and sleek, minimalist rooms. As in other West African capitals, like Dakar and Lagos, the Radisson Blu is a popular spot for the local business and political élite, and also for travellers and …

Telling the Truth About ISIS and Raqqa

On Saturday night, five young Syrians slouched into a dive bar in New York and ordered drinks. When the bartender asked if off-brand vodka was O.K., they had to smile. They were all exiles from Raqqa, the provincial city in northern Syria that <i>ISIS</i> has made its operational center and the de-facto …

Belgian Terror: Brussels on Lockdown

On Saturday, Brussels was essentially shut down, as the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel warned that the threat of a terror attack was “serious and imminent.” Metal shutters and gates blocked entrances to the metro system, and locals were warned to avoid concerts, train stations, shopping …

The Long Night

Terrorist attacks and a city changed.<p>At half past nine in the evening, on Friday, November 13th, Matthieu, a thirty-three-year-old resident of Paris, was eating dinner outside with friends at Le Petit Cambodge, a restaurant in the Tenth Arrondissement, near the Canal Saint-Martin. The Canal is a …