William Langewiesche

"Enclosed are Two Pieces on Algeria." With those words, typed on plain white bond, William Langewiesche introduced himself to the editors of The Atlantic Monthly. Although neither piece quite stood on its own, the editors were drawn to the unusual grace and power of Langewiesche's writing and sent him on assignment to North Africa for a more ambitious piece of reporting. The result was the November 1991, cover story, "The World in Its Extreme"—his first article to appear in a general-interest magazine. (He had, however, written frequently for aviation magazines; he is a professional pilot and first sat at the controls of an airplane at the age of five.) Since that article, from which his book Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert (1996) grew, Langewiesche has reported on a diversity of subjects and published four more books.

A large part of Mr. Langewiesche's reporting experience centers around the Middle East and the Islamic world. He has traveled widely throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, reporting on such topics as the implementation of the shari'a in Sudan under Hassan al-Tarabi, North Africa's Islamic culture, and the American occupation of Iraq. Other recent assignments have taken him to Egypt, the Balkans, India, and Central and South America. In 2004 he won a National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting.

In 2002 his book American Ground: Unbuilding The World Trade Center was published. It is based on a series of three cover stories he wrote for The Atlantic as the only American reporter granted full access to the World Trade Center clean-up effort. His latest book, The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime, was published in May 2004.

  • How to Get a Nuclear Bomb

    It wouldn’t be easy. But it wouldn’t be impossible. A reporter travels the world to find the weaknesses a terrorist could exploit

  • The Point of No Return

    First Pakistan's A.Q. Khan showed that any country could have made a nuclear bomb. Then he showed—not once but three times—why the nuclear trade will never be shut down

  • The Wrath of Khan

    How A. Q. Khan made Pakistan a nuclear power—and showed that the spread of atomic weapons can't be stopped

  • Ziad for the Defense

    When Saddam Hussein goes on trial, he will not lack for legal defenders. Heading his team at the moment is a man named Ziad al-Khasawneh

  • Hotel Baghdad

    Fear and lodging in Iraq

  • The Accuser

    One woman has spent decades documenting crimes against humanity in Iraq. Now Saddam and his circle are facing justice

  • Letter From Baghdad

    Life in the wilds of a city without trust

  • Welcome to the Green Zone

    The American bubble in Baghdad

  • A Sea Story

    One of the worst maritime disasters in European history took place a decade ago. It remains very much in the public eye. On a stormy night on the Baltic Sea, more than 850 people lost their lives when a luxurious ferry sank below the waves. From a mass of material, including official and unofficial reports and survivor testimony, our correspondent has distilled an account of the Estonia's last moments—part of his continuing coverage for the magazine of anarchy on the high seas

  • A Two-Planet Species?

    The right way to think about our space program

  • Columbia's Last Flight

    The inside story of the investigation—and the catastrophe it laid bare

  • Anarchy at Sea

    The sea is a domain increasingly beyond government control, vast and wild, where laws of nations mean little and secretive shipowners do as they please—and where the resilient pathogens of piracy and terrorism flourish 

  • Excerpts From "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center"

    Part Three: The Dance of the Dinosaurs
    After nine months of unrivaled access to the disaster site, our correspondent tells the inside story of the recovery effort. This is the final installment in a three-part series.

  • Excerpts from "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center"

    Part Two: The Rush to Recover
    After nine months of unrivaled access to the disaster site, our correspondent tells the inside story of the recovery effort. This is the second installment in a three-part series.

  • Excerpts From ‘American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center’

    Part One: The Inner World
    After nine months of unrivaled access to the disaster site, our correspondent tells the inside story of the recovery effort. This is the first installment in a three-part series.

  • Storm Island

    If you like extreme weather, the French island of Ouessant is a good place to find it

  • The Crash of EgyptAir 990

    Two years afterward the U.S. and Egyptian governments are still quarreling over the cause—a clash that grows out of cultural division, not factual uncertainty. A look at the flight data from a pilot's perspective, with the help of simulations of the accident, points to what the Egyptians must already know: the crash was caused not by any mechanical failure but by a pilot's intentional act

  • Peace is Hell

    Every six months the Pentagon sends nearly 4,000 soldiers to Bosnia and brings nearly 4,000 soldiers home. To see how it's done is to understand why keeping peace has become harder than waging war—and why the Pax Americana has stretched the mighty American military to the limit

  • The Profits of Doom

    One of the most polluted cities in America learns to capitalize on its contamination

  • Eden: A Gated Community

    The plot contains elements of Lost Horizon and Heart of Darkness, Fitzcarraldo and The Tempest. After making a fortune as founder of North Face and Esprit, Douglas Tompkins embraced the principles of deep ecology. Then, forsaking civilization, he bought a Yosemite-sized piece of wilderness in Chile, where only he and a like-minded few would live. They intended to show the world how an eco-community could flourish even as the ancient forest was kept pristine. Tompkins ran into one big problem: other people

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down