Long-form essays written for magazines and newspapers by columnist and author Ted Rall.

The Karakoram Highway (1999 Essay)

A slightly longer version of this piece originally appeared in P.O.V. magazine in 1999: THE KARAKORAM HIGHWAY: The World’s Most Dangerous Roadway by Ted Rall On your standard map it’s a thousand miles of pavement connecting China to Pakistan. Of course, on that same map New York City is just a black circle with a […]

The Bad War: Afghanistan Seven Years Later

NATO came to Nurat on July 11th. There were seventy soldiers, 45 of them members of the American troop complement that has occupied Afghanistan since the fall of 2001 and 25 members of Hamid Karzai’s ragtag national army. Because the air isn’t thick enough at that altitude for helicopters to operate reliably, the men had […]

Under the Sword of Damocles (2008 Essay)

Originally published in Men’s Journal magazine in 2008: High in the remotest mountains of the remotest province of the remotest nation in central Asia, a breathtaking lake is poised to unleash an inland tsunami that could kill 5 million people. Our writer couldn’t resist being one of the first outsiders to see it on foot. […]

Book Review: “The Age of American Unreason,” by Susan Jacoby

Susan Jacoby The Age of American Unreason Pantheon Books, 384 pp., $26.00 “How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?” a British newspaper headline asked about the Americans who voted for George W. Bush a second time. The 2004 election returns have inspired dozens of books by authors—most of them, as even less than brilliant citizens […]

Book Review: “War Powers,” by Peter Irons

War Powers Peter Irons How The Imperial Presidency Hijacked the Constitution Metropolitan Books, $25, 304 pp. The United States Constitution can be vexingly vague—the placement of a comma separates those who believe that the Second Amendment permits private citizens to own firearms from those who say it limits gun ownership to the military—but it is […]

Finally, You Admit We Were Right: An Iraq Victory Dance

When voters went to the polls on November 7, 1972, they possessed more than enough information to pick the right president. Republican incumbent Richard Nixon had reneged on his 1968-winning promise to withdraw from Vietnam, instead expanding the war into Cambodia and Laos and unleashing upon North Vietnam the most ferocious bombing campaign in the […]

I Told You So: The Collapse of U.S.-Occupied Iraq

In February, before thousands of bombs bought with your payroll deductions killed thousands of Iraqis for no good reason, one Neil Pollack despoiled these pages to insult my worries about the looming war. “The lengthy shriek of a madman, but presented so authoritatively, so matter-of-factly, that you have to shrug,” Pollack declared my essay. I […]

Buzkashi (2002 Essay)

The following piece was commissioned for Gear magazine—which went out of business while I was in Tajikistan doing the work. It did appear in Drill magazine, which also went under, but not before publishing it with a cool photo spread: A GOOD DAY TO DIE: The Ultimate Extreme Sport at the End of the Earth […]

Roach Motel: Lowdown Living in California

“It’ll be temporary.” They’re the three most frightening words in the English language. Still, what did I know? My on-again, off-again girlfriend looked at me like she really meant it. So I went along while never believing a single word she said. Which is how I ended up managing the skeeviest hot-sheets motel in America […]

Silk Road to Ruin (1997 Essay)

A slightly shorter version of the following piece originally appeared in P.O.V. magazine in 1997: YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE: Madness on the Post-Soviet Silk Road by Ted Rall The doors of our cabin flew open after eight hellish hours on the death train. It was the Turkmeni Border Patrol, distinguishable from their Uzbek […]

Memoirs of a New York City Taxi Driver

It was all I could do to keep myself from fucking up the guy with the Knicks sweatshirt at the restaurant table next to me. “Can you believe these guys want a fare increase?” he asked. “Fucking A!” his friend with the Syracuse baseball cap farted. “None of ’em understand English; they never know where […]

The Last Six Minutes of Doomed Flight 411

You May Have Wondered What Happened – Or It’s Entirely Possible That You Were Preoccupied At The Time, Which Is Perfectly OK Then – In Any Event, Well, Here’s THE LAST SIX MINUTES OF DOOMED FLIGHT 411 As everyone now knows, doomed Flight 411 never made it from Pittsburgh to Dayton on June 3rd. At […]

Marketing Madness: A Postmortem for Generation X

Dineh Mohajer, if you choose to believe Time magazine, is just like you. Two years ago, the 24-year-old California woman launched her own cosmetics company, Hard Candy, as a lark. Now she’s expecting $25 million in sales for fiscal ‘97. Assuming the quotes are accurate, this CEO-come-lately coasts on mental autopilot: “I function like an […]

Dubious Liberators: Allied Plans to Occupy France, 1942-1944

Forty-six years ago this June, the largest invasion force in the history of mankind landed at Normandy, initiating a series of bloody confrontations with the occupying German armies that ended ten months later in Berlin. The international press dispatched wire photos of ecstatic French civilians embracing exhausted Allied soldiers. The liberation of France—and of Paris […]