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“The Impossibility of Trying to Write a 'Gatsbyesque' Novel…and Other Lessons from a Journo-Literary Career”
David Ignatius
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David Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column for the Washington Post and is the author of twelve novels. He began his career as a journalist as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, covering at various times the steel industry, the Departments of State and Justice, the CIA, the Senate, and the Middle East. He joined the Post in 1986 as editor of its Sunday Outlook section, became foreign editor in 1990, and in 1993 assistant managing editor for business news. He began his column in 1998 and continued it during his three-year stint as executive editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris from 2000 to 2003. For his journalism he has been awarded the George Polk Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary, the Edward Weintal Prize, the Urbino International Press Award, the Overseas Press Club Award for Foreign Affairs Commentary, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Committee for Foreign Journalists, and the Legion D’Honneur awarded by the French government.


His twelve novels include Agents of Innocence (1987), SIRO (1991), The Bank of Fear (1994), A Firing Offense (1997), The Sun King (1999), Body of Lies (2007), The Increment (2009), Bloodmoney (2011), The Director (2014), The Quantum Spy (2017), The Paladin (2020), and Phantom Orbit (2023). The Sun King is a reworking of The Great Gatsby set in late twentieth-century Washington. Body of Lies was made into a 2008 film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. In 2017, David Ignatius collaborated with composer Mohammed Fairouz on an opera commissioned by the Dutch National Opera, The New Prince, based on the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli. Ignatius described the broad themes of the opera in terms of three chapters: "The first chapter is about revolution and disorder. Revolutions, like children, are lovable when young, and they become much less lovable as they age. The second lesson Machiavelli tells us is about sexual obsession, among leaders. And then the final chapter is basically the story of Dick Cheney [and] bin Laden, the way in which those two ideas of what we're obliged to do as leaders converged in such a destructive way.”

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