Joel Whitney in conversation with James Risen
January 12, 2017, 7:00 PM
Joel Whitney’s debut, Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers, is a tale of two CIAs: one that created literary magazines that promoted Western writers and cultural freedom, and another that toppled governments, using assassination and censorship as political tools. In a story involving such figures as George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, and Richard Wright, Whitney demonstrates how the the two CIAs shared many of the same methods of deception, subterfuge, and intimidation, ultimately pushing U.S. democracy a little closer to the Soviet model of the surveillance state.
Joel Whitney is a cofounder and editor at large of Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Boston Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, Dissent, Salon, NPR, New York Magazine and The Sun. With photographer Brett Van Ort, he co-wrote the 2013 TED Talks ebook on landmine eradication, Minescape. His poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The Nation, and Agni. His Salon essay on The Paris Review and the Congress for Cultural Freedom was a Notable in the 2013 Best American Essays.
James Risen is an investigative journalist with The New York Times and author of State of War and Pay Any Price. In 2006 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories about warrantless wiretapping by the NSA.