Evan Wright

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Evan Wright
Evan Alan Wright

1966 (age 54–55)[1]
Notable work
Generation Kill, Hella Nation, American Desperado
TelevisionGeneration Kill
AwardsTwo National Magazine Awards

Evan Alan Wright (born 1966) is an American writer, known for his extensive reporting on subcultures for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.[2] He is best known for his book on the Iraq War, Generation Kill (2004). He also wrote an exposé about a top CIA officer who allegedly worked as a Mafia hitman, How to Get Away With Murder in America (2012).[3]

Although some compare his writings to those of Hunter S. Thompson, Wright claims his biggest literary influences were Mark Twain and British-American author Christopher Isherwood.[1] The New York Times called his military writing "nuanced and grounded in details often overlooked in daily journalistic accounts" and noted his use of "gallows humor".[4]


Wright was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Willoughby, Ohio. Both of his parents were lawyers. His father was a prosecutor, then the general counsel, for a utility. Wright attended Hawken School,[5] but was kicked out for selling marijuana and sent to a home for juvenile delinquents called The Seed.[1] He returned to Hawken and made State Debate finals in high school. Wright studied at Johns Hopkins University and at Vassar College; he graduated from Vassar with a degree in medieval history.[6] His first writing job was to interview South African political leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, but it was for a small magazine that did not pay.[5]

Hustler magazine[edit]

In 1995, he became the entertainment editor and chief pornographic film reviewer for Hustler magazine. In 2000, he wrote about the experience and the issues surrounding the pornography industry in an article for Salon, titled "Maxed Out",[7] and for the LA Weekly, in a cover story titled "Scenes from My Life in Porn".[8]

Immersion journalism[edit]

Starting in 1996 at Hustler, then at Rolling Stone, TIME, and Vanity Fair, he wrote long features based on his immersion in subcultures ranging from radical environmentalists to neo-Nazis. Many of his essays focused on crimes or controversial figures, and were said by him to capture a "dark, untamed America" that resembled "the Wild West."[9] Several of his essays were collected in the book Hella Nation, which Wright called a "sort of autobiography".[1] His essays in Hella Nation were compared to Joan Didion's writings on California.[10] Another reviewer called Hella Nation a "comically macabre portrait of American life".[11]

Military reporting[edit]

In 2002, Wright went to Afghanistan on assignment for Rolling Stone.[6]

In 2003, he was embedded with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the United States Marine Corps during the early stages of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[12] Wright spent his entire time embedded in a recon team led by then Sergeant Brad Colbert. He was under fire with the Marines for several weeks, and accompanied them "on point" (i.e., in the lead vehicle). One of the Marines in the unit told The New York Times, "He was in the worst possible place to have a reporter. During the first firefight, he took 10 rounds in his door."[4] Wright expressed admiration for the Marines, but warned them that a reporter's motto is "charm and betray". He published a series of articles for Rolling Stone magazine titled "The Killer Elite" which, in 2004, received the National Magazine Award for Reporting, the top prize in magazine writing. He then wrote Generation Kill.[13]

In 2007, he returned to Iraq when the surge in U.S. forces was beginning. Wright interviewed General David Petraeus and spent several weeks embedded with U.S. troops in Baghdad, Ramadi, and Diwania. He later criticized American television media for promoting misperceptions of the war. He also criticized some U.S. political leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for calling the surge a failure before it had been fully implemented.[14]

Television and film[edit]

HBO adapted Generation Kill into an eponymous television miniseries first aired in 2008; Wright is portrayed by Lee Tergesen. Wright himself served as a writer and consulting producer on the project, collaborating closely with Emmy-winning producer David Simon.[15]

Wright was hired by Paramount to write a script about Miami's "Cocaine Cowboys" Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday for Peter Berg to direct. The screenplay is based on a book Wright wrote about Roberts, published by Crown Books.[16] Actor Mark Wahlberg is producing the film and plans to star in it.[17]

In 2010, it was announced that director Ole Bornedal was filming a movie[18] inspired by an article Wright wrote for TIME magazine called "Death of a Hostess".[19] Wright's article was a profile of Japanese serial-rapist and killer Joji Obara he wrote in Tokyo for TIME magazine.[20]

In 2012, he released the book American Desperado,[3][21] co-wrotten with Jon Roberts, who was featured in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys.[22]


At least six of the Marines Wright wrote about in Generation Kill have claimed they were punished for the remarks he published. Spokesman Lt. Nathan Braden denied that any Marines were punished as a result of Wright's work.[6]

In 2004, Wright wrote an op-ed in The New York Times criticizing the U.S. military for allowing Iraq's insurgents to obtain weapons.[23]

Wright has criticized college creative writing programs, saying such programs produce bad writers.[1]

Published works[edit]

  • The Best American Crime Writing: 2003 Edition: The Year's Best True Crime Reporting ("Mad Dogs & Lawyers")
  • The Best American Magazine Writing: 2004 (Best Reporting)
  • Generation Kill (2004)
  • Hella Nation (2009)
  • American Desperado (with Jon Roberts) (2011)
  • The Best American Magazine Writing: 2008 (Best Profile Writing)
  • How to Get Away with Murder in America (2012)



  1. ^ a b c d e Timberg, Scott (April 5, 2009). "Evan Wright: Going where the wild things are". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  2. ^ Wright, Evan Alan (May 7, 2001). "Lucie Blackman: Death of a Hostess". TIME. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Robert Beckhusen (2012-06-27). "Top CIA Spy Accused of Being a Mafia Hitman". Wired. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  4. ^ a b Waxman, Sharon (June 10, 2004). "Sparring No One". The New York Times.
  5. ^ a b Heaton, Michael (December 11, 2011). "Author evan Wright Talks About Rogues and Heroes". Plain Dealer.
  6. ^ a b c Dechter, Gadi (July 14, 2004). "Rogue Warriors: Rolling Stone Journalist Evan Wright Brings Back a Brutally Candid View of the War—and the Soldiers—in Iraq". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  7. ^ Wright, Evan (January 18, 2000). "Maxed out". Salon.com. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  8. ^ Wright, Evan (March 29, 2000). "Scenes from My Life in Porn". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  9. ^ Reggie, Aqui (April 2009). "Dark, Untamed America". CNN.
  10. ^ Carson, Tom (April 2009). "Hustle and Flow". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  11. ^ Astor, Michael (April 2009), Review: Hella Nation, Associated Press, archived from the original on 2013-01-27, retrieved 2012-06-23
  12. ^ Ludden, Jennifer. "Evan Wright: Reporting on 'The Killer Elite'". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  13. ^ Brand, Madeleine. "'Generation Kill': Elite Marines Battle in Iraq". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  14. ^ http://bigthink.com/ideas/284
  15. ^ Smith, Lynn (July 15, 2008). "Ensuring a series is combat ready". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  16. ^ "Wright takes on "Cowboys" starring Wahlberg". Reuters. 2008-07-24.
  17. ^ "OSCAR Q&A: Mark Wahlberg On 'The Fighter'". Deadline. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2010-11-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Death of a Hostess". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Wright, Evan Alan (2001-05-14). "Lucie Blackman: Death of a Hostess". TIME.
  21. ^ American Desperado
  22. ^ "Evan Wright - About Evan Wright". Penguin Group (USA). Image credit:Zari. April 7, 2014. Archived from the original on April 8, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2014. The Seed, a reported memoir of brainwashing to be published in the Summer of 2010.CS1 maint: others (link)
  23. ^ Wright, Evan (June 17, 2004). "How Much Is That Uzi In the Window?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  24. ^ "J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project winners". Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  25. ^ Wright, Evan (April 6, 2009), "Life With the Anarchists", The Daily Beast, retrieved 2010-11-19

External links[edit]