Essays

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

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 […]

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 […]

Start-Up! Murder and Millennial Madness at a Gen X Computer Company

“Start me up.” – The Rolling Stones, 1981 It all began as an innocent attempt to while away a stormy night during midterms. According to a former classmate who, like most of the sources for this piece, declined to be identified, his friend Brian Kaufman was feeling antsy. “It happened on March 17, 1994, but […]

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 […]

Fatal Defenestration: Men Who Love Gravity Too Much

“I want a world without gravity.” -Jim Carroll, 1980 My first time happened in Boston. It was in a double on the 12th floor of the Hotel Essex across a sprawling boulevard from South Station. It was a shitty room in a shitty hotel in an even shittier neighborhood, but the Columbia Marching Band was […]

White Weddings: Selections from the New York Times Weddings Announcements

Kelly Edwards, Steven Still Kelly Edwards and Steven Joseph Still were married last evening by Cantor Pierre Aronson at the St. Regis in New York. Mrs. Still, 30, is a founding partner in G2 Resources, an exclusive brokerage firm in Greenwich, Conn. owned by the investment bank of Goldman, Sachs & Company in New York. […]

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 […]