Saturday, January 05, 2008
Economist Obit Interview
Sorry to keep talking about the Economist, but I heard this piece on the radio yesterday morning and couldn't resist passing it along. It's an interview with Ann Wroe, the Economist's current obituary writer. It can be a real challenge to read an entire issue of the Economist cover-to-cover each week, but I always make sure I at least flip to the back and read the obituary. I find the form and subjects of the Economist's obits much more compelling than obituaries in other publications. They are long, at least by obituary standards, and they always manage to profile people who lived profoundly interesting lives. This week's subject is obviously Benazir Bhutto, but in weeks where no one's death is at the top of international headlines, they usually manage to find people who, to reuse a compliment from the world of art, were much more influential than well-known. Often times, I've either never heard of the person they are remembering or I have heard of the person but had no idea that he or she had passed away. Aviation pioneer Freddie Laker and avant garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen are two relatively recent examples of the latter. The Economist's obituary page is neither afraid to talk about the flaws of those who have passed away, nor is it afraid to eulogize people whose passing has probably made the world a better place. Non-subscribers can read the past year's worth of obits for free online. Check it out sometime.