American writer, columnist and academic teacher born in 1958. In 1976, he began studying at the prestigious Harvard University, where he explored many fields of knowledge at the same time, combining his interests in literature, philosophy, religion, and art. He was particularly influenced by a course on the development of modern prose, then held by Frank Kermode, well-known British literary scholar and critic. Classes on international relations, held by Stanley Hoffman and Guido Goldman, also proved to be important. In 1981, Danner graduated magna cum laude, and shortly after, he began working at the editorial office of the New York Review of Books. Brilliant articles on politics and international affairs quickly defined the main areas of interest of the young writer, which made his career gain momentum. In 1990, The New Yorker published a three-part account of riots in Haiti, for which Danner received the prestigious National Magazine Award in the Reporting category. It was the first of many honours that helped build the reputation of one of the most inquisitive and insightful American journalists over the years. In 1999, in recognition of his lifetime achievement, Danner received the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the Genius Grant.
Beginning with the first awarded piece of reportage, Danner described conflicts developing in various parts of the world. Among his articles, texts concerning the Gulf War, riots in the Balkans, and the American war on terror started after the 9/11 attacks constitute a major part. Reporting on the last conflict between Iraq and the United States, the journalist paid special attention to a scandal related to using torture by the American authorities. A series of essays on this subject was later collected and published as an independent publication, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror (2004). Danner was the first American journalist to reveal the minutes of a meeting of British officials which preceded the decision about invading Iraq. Later, he also publicised a classified report of the International Committee of the Red Cross concerning the use of torture in international CIA prisons. Both texts provoked heated discussions and permanently changed the shape of political discourse.
In 2000, Danner joined the academic staff at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds courses on journalism, political violence, and literature, putting particular emphasis on issues related to conflicts. Since 2002, he has also taught at Bard College. He lives in Czesław Miłosz’s house in Grizzly Peak, Berkeley.