Madeleine Elfenbein

Madeleine Elfenbein is on the editorial staff of The New Yorker.

Recent Articles

The Years of Magical Thinking

In her latest book, Susan Faludi plumbs the depths of the national psyche for reasons why our response to 9-11 was so disastrous -- and so bizarrely familiar.

The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America by Susan Faludi (Metropolitan/Holt, 351 pages, $26) Reporting from the site of the World Trade Center on the morning after it was attacked, Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman bore witness to the "strangely silent precincts" around where the two towers once stood. The piles of rubble in their place "defied comprehension," he wrote. A medic on the scene stood by to treat survivors who never came, and Gellman noted the look on her face: "It was not the horror that she had seen," he wrote. "It was the impotence." Ten days later in the nation's capital, the same reporter described a markedly different scene: "Monday morning in the Oval Office," and a "transformed" President Bush was barking orders at aides ("I want to see a draft of that speech tonight"). Gone were the strange silence and the feeling of impotence. Meanwhile, at Camp David, the president's advisers were dining on buffalo steaks and already talking about "taking...

The Kurdish Question

Can Turkey learn to live with an increasingly powerful Iraqi Kurdistan across the border?

About 200 Turks gathered near the U. S. embassy in Ankara to protest against the United States for not cracking down on Turkish Kurdish rebels based in Iraq.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
The phantom nation of Kurdistan has as long and bloody and proud a history as any Middle Eastern nation -- longer, bloodier, and even prouder, one might say, for it has never had the chance to fail its citizens. It has led its existence as a shadow country hovering over the mountainous region now occupied by Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Armenia. It has had leaders who fought for it, and enemies who tried to destroy it, and millions of would-be citizens, but it has never appeared on official maps of the region. Instead, throughout the twentieth century the idea of Kurdistan has been used as both a carrot and a stick to manipulate the balance of power in the Middle East, leading to developments that rarely benefited the Kurds themselves. "No friends but the mountains," the Kurdish saying goes. Soon the landscape may change. A Kurdish state is now emerging in northern Iraq, and the status of the Kurds as a landless, stateless people appears about to shift, perhaps dramatically. For...

Irshad Manji's Flying Leap

At the start of " Faith Without Fear ," Irshad Manji's hour-long film documenting her quest to "reconcile faith and freedom" as a Muslim living in the West, sirens wail in the distance as Manji stands before her bullet-proof window surveying Toronto at night. "I can't show you where I live," she says, but she shows us her home security system and the lock on her mailbox to prevent letter-bombs. "My journey is about speaking out against injustice, no matter who's offended," she declares. "I won't abandon my God -- or my voice." She ties on her scarf over her pea coat, sets her security panel for "Away," and steps out to face the cold Canadian evening -- alone. Manji, who began her career as a political aide and speechwriter, was until recently a television host in Canada. She first grabbed the U.S. spotlight in 2004 with a book called The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith . She reassured readers that Islam's problems were serious but fixable, and that the West...