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David Rieff (pronounced /ˈriːf/; born September 28, 1952, in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American nonfiction writer and policy analyst. His books have focused on issues of immigration, international conflict, and humanitarianism. He has published numerous articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, El Pais, The New Republic, World Affairs, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, and other publications.
Rieff is the only child of Susan Sontag. His father, whom Sontag married in her teens and divorced in her 20s, was Philip Rieff, author of Freud: The Mind of the Moralist.
Rieff was educated at the Lycée Français de New York and attended Amherst College as a member of the class of 1974, where he studied with Benjamin DeMott. He eventually dropped out and went through a vagabond period, during which he labored for the radical Catholic priest Ivan Illich in Mexico and worked as a cab driver. He finally ended up at Princeton University, where he graduated with an A.B. in 1978, and was a Senior Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux from 1978 to 1989, working with such authors as Joseph Brodsky, Elias Canetti, Carlos Fuentes, Alberto Moravia, Les Murray, Philip Roth, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Marguerite Yourcenar.
He is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute at the New School for Social Research, a Fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, of the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute and of Independent Diplomat.
Rieff has expressed strong disapproval of the American policies and actions that both informed and followed the invasion of Iraq.
- Texas Boots (with Sharon Delano) (Studio/Penguin, 1981)
- Going to Miami: Tourists, Exiles and Refugees in the New America (Little, Brown, 1987)
- Los Angeles: Capital of the Third World (Simon & Schuster, 1991)
- The Exile: Cuba in the Heart of Miami (Simon & Schuster, 1993)
- Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (Simon & Schuster, 1995)
- Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (co-editor, with Roy Gutman) (W. W. Norton, 1999)
- A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2003)
- At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention (Simon & Schuster, 2005)
- Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir (Simon & Schuster, 2008)
- Reborn: Journals & Notebooks, 1947-1963 (editor) (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. 2009)
Critical studies and reviews
- Rose, Peter (September 2011). "In the ring with Susan Sontag". Australian Book Review 334: 20–21.
- Without Exception: The Same Old Song, World Affairs
- PBS Frontline interview with Rieff (online only) (March 25, 2003)
- Curtis Bowman commentary on Rieff opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (April 7, 2005)
- Foreign Affairs review of At the Point of a Gun (March/April 2005)
- Archive of writings by David Rieff for The Nation.
- Transcript of interview with Ramona Koval of The Book Show, ABC Radio National, live at the Sydney Writers' Festival, 23 May 2008
- Radio interview on Bookworm, discussing Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir
- Interview with David Rieff, Barcelona Metropolis, Summer, 2009.
- Rieff, David, "Muscular Utopianism: I used to be a liberal interventionist. Now I'm a realist" at the Wayback Machine (archived January 3, 2010), The Wall Street Journal, Sunday, April 3, 2005.