Photo credit: Kenny Braun
About Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright is an author of numerous books, a screenwriter, playwright, and a staff writer for The New Yorker. His most recent book, Thirteen Days in September gives a gripping day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David Conference and his 2013 release, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief, appeared on numerous best books of the year lists. His previous book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, among many other honors. An international bestseller, The Looming Tower has been translated into 25 languages.
Other books in Wright’s impressive body of work include Saints & Sinners and the recently republished memoir In the New World: Growing Up with America from the Sixties to the Eighties (originally published in 1987). In these and other works Wright explores faith, belief, and the power of temptation.
His new play, Camp David, about the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace negotiations, starring Richard Thomas as President Jimmy Carter, premiered in Washington, D.C., in April 2014. In 2006, his one-man play, My Trip to al-Qaeda, premiered at The New Yorker Festival. The play enjoyed a sold-out, six-week run off-Broadway, and was made into an HBO documentary film (2010) by the same title, directed by Alex Gibney, winner of the 2008 Academy Award for Feature Documentary.
In this talk, Wright discusses the process through which peace can be made through the lens of the peace accords at Camp David between Carter, Begin, and Sadat in 1978. He delves deeply into the issues and enmities between the two nations and reveals the extraordinary way in which the participants at the conference attained peace as well as the profound difficulties inherent in the process and its outcome, including the still unsettled struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
An in-depth look into the Church of Scientology. Wright explores why people believe one thing rather than another, especially in America—the religion superstore.
The Future of Terrorism
This speech addresses the roots of terror and examines how al-Qaeda and other terror groups have evolved since 9/11, and what we can do to counter such threats.
How to Organize Material, Craft a Narrative, and Find Compelling Characters To Carry the Story Along From Start to Finish
Most narrative writers have developed a method to organize and craft their material into prose that they hope reads like fiction. Lawrence Wright counts on a meticulous and painstaking methodology to reduce complex subjects and seemingly impenetrable worlds into manageable material at the tip of his fingertips. During this talk, Wright unravels his methodology to make the otherwise daunting task of distilling a complex subject, and months or years of research, into riveting nonfiction prose more simple than it seems.
Praise for Lawrence Wright
Rarely have I seen a writer so gifted as a storyteller, on the page or in person. Larry Wright speaks like he writes — with absolute mastery of the material. He doesn’t miss the little details that make all the difference and he is clearly not cowed by the scope of the extraordinary story he tells with such authority. (Describing Wright’s presentation at The Headliners Foundation awards luncheon.)— Wayne Slater
Larry was both a captivating and informative speaker. His keynote delivery flowed impeccably so that even an audience without much background in his subject matter could follow. He also engaged the audience in sharing the strong personal ties he has to many of his sources in the Middle East. Through this, a topic that could easily fall to statistics and policy becomes human again- something the audience can relate to and feel alongside Wright. The documentary screening was also very well received. The injected bits of humor balance the serious nature of the topic. I do think that the audience enjoyed interacting more directly with Wright, so it could be beneficial to explore a shorter version of the documentary to show when Larry is attending the screening. That way the audience has more “face time” for questions and answers. Finally, it was impressive how Larry thoroughly answered every question asked by the audience and took the time to speak with anyone who approached him. After what I am sure was a long week and weekend, his patience and welcoming ear were admirable to say the least. Overall, we could not have asked for a more talented and kind speaker.— Vanderbilt University
Lawrence Wright’s talk at the Dallas Public Library was spectacular. He really understands Al Qaeda as few others do, and he articulates it in a way people here can understand. He held everyone spellbound. The whole thing went really well. Everyone was very pleased.— Friends of the Dallas Public Library
Lawrence Wright spoke to a standing room only house last night and all 450 people who attended walked away both moved and impressed. He lays out a picture of events that is gripping and clear and tells the story in a way that makes you realy care about the people and events. As scary as his book is, he also finds a way to add humor to his presentation. His book, The Looming Tower, is wonderful! And Mr. Wright is an extremely nice gentleman. I can hardly wait for his next book.— World Affairs Council of Houston
Lawrence Wright proved to be the highlight of the fall semester. He taught important lessons about the Middle East and terrorism while offering a great deal of practical advice about the tradecraft of reporting and writing. The talk was incredibly inspiring for those of us just starting out, wrote one student. She especially appreciated his tips for researching and writing an in-depth piece. Another student said his talk inspired her to have ambitious goals. Yet another commented on Wrights extensive knowledge of the Middle East and his ability to find humor in serious situations. I think we all came away invigorated by Larrys passion and commitment and the seriousness with which he took our interest in being better reporters and writers. He gave of himself fully and honestly. You cant ask for more from a speaker.— University of Houston
Praise for Thirteen Days in September
“Exceedingly balanced, highly readable, and appropriately sober.”— Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
It is brilliant penetrating scholarship. . . . Wright expertly captures every move of the three-way realpolitik chess match. By using each man's biography to illuminate the history of his respective nation, he not only chronicles Camp David but elucidates the issues that continue to plague the Middle East.— Jeff Labrecque, Entertainment Weekly
Praise for Going Clear
"An utterly necessary story...A feat of reporting."— The Wall Street Journal
Books by Lawrence Wright
Media About Lawrence Wright
- 212 572-2013
- Lawrence Wright travels from Austin, TX
Thirteen Days in September
“A magnificent book . . . In his minute-by-minute account of the talks Wright intersperses a concise history of Egyptian-Israel relations dating from the story of Exodus. Even more important is Wright's understanding that Sadat, Begin and Carter were not just political leaders, but exemplars of the Holy Land's three internecine religious traditions.”––Joe Klein, New York Times Book Review