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Stefan Kanfer
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By Stefan Kanfer:
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Stefan Kanfer.

Stefan Kanfer is a contributing editor of City Journal. He writes extensively on a wide range of political, social, and cultural topics. Kanfer's most recent City Journal feature, "City Lights” discussed the long line of literary personalities who made New York City their home, ranging from Washington Irving to Edith Wharton to Norman Mailer. Kanfer's previous articles include pieces on the personalities who created Broadway theater (later collected in the book The Voodoo That They Did So Well), “Horatio Alger: The Moral of the Story" (Autumn 2000), "Good Literature Lives!" (Spring 2000), and "And on the Right, Charles Dickens!" (Winter 1999).

Kanfer is the author of more than a dozen books, among them cultural histories (The Last Empire, the story of the De Beers diamond company) and Stardust Lost, about the triumph and tragedy of the Yiddish Theater in America. Several of his biographies have been on the bestseller list. Groucho focused on the most famous Marx brother, an aspiring doctor who got pushed into show business by his mother; Ball of Fire concerned the TV superstar Lucille Ball; and Somebody charted the complicated life and influential career of Marlon Brando. Kanfer's upcoming biography, Tough Without a Gun, examines the reasons why Humphrey Bogart has endured as an icon more than fifty years after his final film. Kanfer's novels include Fear Itself, a story of an Italian assassin; a sendup of the United Nations entitled The International Garage Sale; and The Eighth Sin, about gypsies during World War II. A selection of the Book of the Month Club, The Eighth Sin led to an appointment on the President's Commission on the Holocaust. Kanfer is the only journalist ever to serve on that governmental body.

Kanfer wrote and edited at Time for more than twenty years, during which he was a cinema and theater reviewer and essayist, and, for a decade, senior editor of the magazine's book review section. He is the main interviewer in the cinema documentary The Line King, a biography of theatrical caricaturist Al Hirshfield which received an Academy Award nomination. Before becoming a journalist, Kanfer wrote for the theater and television, contributing material to Victor Borge, Gwen Verdon, and Alan Funt, among others. The recipient of numerous awards, Kanfer was installed as a Literary Lion at the New York Public Library, has been a writer in residence at CUNY, a visiting professor at SUNY-Purchase and Wesleyan University, and was the only Time writer to win the Penney-Missouri School of Journalism Prize and the Westchester Writers Prize.

He lives in New York with his wife May, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College. They have two married children, Lili, an early childhood teacher at Yale, and Ethan, an NYPD detective.


[SORT BY CATEGORY] [SORT BY PUBLICATION TYPE]

Advocacy Groups
  • Peacenik Warmongers City Journal, Autumn 2005
  • Defending the Indefensible City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • The New Blacklist City Journal, Summer 2000


  • Arts and Literature
  • And on the Right, Charles Dickens! City Journal, Winter 1999
  • Good Literature Lives! City Journal, Spring 2000
  • The Dung Hits the Fan City Journal, Autumn 1999
  • Elementary Con Job City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • A Little Touch of Mozart in New York City Journal, Spring 2001
  • Horatio Alger: The Moral of the Story City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • Isaac Singer’s Promised City City Journal, Summer 1997
  • It’s Their Money City Journal, Summer 1999
  • The Americanization of Irving Berlin City Journal, Spring 2002
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002
  • The New Blacklist City Journal, Summer 2000
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, 3 April 2002
  • The Voodoo That He Did So Well City Journal, Winter 2003
  • Now That’s Popular Culture! City Journal, Spring 2003
  • Richard Rodgers: Enigma Variations City Journal, Autumn 2003
  • The Yiddish Theater’s Triumph City Journal, Spring 2004
  • The Use of Dr. Seuss City Journal, Spring 2004
  • Christo-mania City Journal, Summer 2004
  • Sondheim vs. Sondheim City Journal, Autumn 2004
  • Vaudeville’s Brief, Shining Moment City Journal, Spring 2005
  • The Dynamo and the Jeweler City Journal, Autumn 2006
  • The Big Lie, Clothbound City Journal, Winter 2007
  • Love and Glory in East Aurory City Journal, Spring 2007
  • In Living Black-and-White City Journal, Summer 2008
  • Days of Rage Recalled Wall Street Journal, 03-28-09
  • Exile in Dogpatch City Journal, Spring 2010
  • When Words Go Lightly to Screen Wall Street Journal, 06-28-10
  • City Lights City Journal, Autumn 2010
  • Going Pogo City Journal, Autumn 2011
  • Pop Art’s Pop City Journal, Spring 2012
  • Krazy City Journal, Winter 2013
  • Where There’s a Will City Journal, Spring 2013
  • Father of the Wild Things City Journal, Winter 2014


  • Business and Economy
  • The Czarinas of Beauty City Journal, Summer 2004
  • Booms and Busts City Journal, Special Issue 2009


  • Children and Family
  • The Scout Wars City Journal, Summer 2001
  • Why the Scouts Ban Homosexuals City Journal, Winter 2002


  • Compassionate Conservatism
  • Defending the Indefensible City Journal, Autumn 2000


  • Crime
  • Why the Scouts Ban Homosexuals City Journal, Winter 2002
  • Time Bombs City Journal, Autumn 1995
  • Gun Crazy City Journal, Spring 2003
  • Soccer Louts City Journal, Summer 2006


  • Culture and Society
  • A Modest Proposal City Journal, Spring 2001
  • Defending the Indefensible City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • Elementary Con Job City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • The Post Office Stamps Out the 1980s City Journal, Spring 2000
  • The Newest American Credo City Journal, Spring 1998
  • Time Heals All Wounds City Journal, Spring 1998
  • Coke Does Right City Journal, Winter 2000
  • The Scout Wars City Journal, Summer 2001
  • Fox Has Morals? City Journal, Winter 2002
  • Why the Scouts Ban Homosexuals City Journal, Winter 2002
  • The Americanization of Irving Berlin City Journal, Spring 2002
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002
  • The New Blacklist City Journal, Summer 2000
  • America’s Dumbest Intellectual City Journal, Summer 2002
  • Berserkeley! City Journal, Autumn 2002
  • Now That’s Popular Culture! City Journal, Spring 2003
  • Richard Rodgers: Enigma Variations City Journal, Autumn 2003
  • Britzophrenia City Journal, Winter 2004
  • The Use of Dr. Seuss City Journal, Spring 2004
  • The Czarinas of Beauty City Journal, Summer 2004
  • Just the Highlights City Journal, Summer 2004
  • Sondheim vs. Sondheim City Journal, Autumn 2004
  • Play Balco! City Journal, Winter 2005
  • Vaudeville’s Brief, Shining Moment City Journal, Spring 2005
  • Barbra’s Dictionary City Journal, 3 January 2006
  • The Dynamo and the Jeweler City Journal, Autumn 2006
  • May 1968: 40 Years Later City Journal, Spring 2008
  • In Living Black-and-White City Journal, Summer 2008
  • Richard Pryor: Stand-Up Philosopher City Journal, Spring 2009
  • Exile in Dogpatch City Journal, Spring 2010
  • Going Pogo City Journal, Autumn 2011
  • Father of the Wild Things City Journal, Winter 2014


  • Economic Development
  • The Consolations of History City Journal, Autumn 2001


  • Education
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002
  • Expurgated Exams City Journal, Summer 2002
  • Berserkeley! City Journal, Autumn 2002


  • Ethnicity
  • The Columbian Cartel City Journal, Spring 2005
  • The Yiddish Theater’s Triumph City Journal, Spring 2004
  • France vs. France City Journal, Winter 2006


  • Foreign Affairs
  • Springtime for Schröder and Germany City Journal, Autumn 2002
  • France vs. France City Journal, Winter 2006
  • Jew Tortured, Times Fiddles City Journal, 7 March 2006
  • Soccer Louts City Journal, Summer 2006
  • Warrior Princess City Journal, Autumn 2006
  • The Big Lie, Clothbound City Journal, Winter 2007


  • Ground Zero
  • Poshlost at Ground Zero City Journal, Autumn 2005


  • Higher Education
  • The Dung Hits the Fan City Journal, Autumn 1999
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002
  • Berserkeley! City Journal, Autumn 2002
  • The Columbian Cartel City Journal, Spring 2005


  • History
  • The Post Office Stamps Out the 1980s City Journal, Spring 2000
  • A Little Touch of Mozart in New York City Journal, Spring 2001
  • Isaac Singer’s Promised City City Journal, Summer 1997
  • The Consolations of History City Journal, Autumn 2001
  • The Americanization of Irving Berlin City Journal, Spring 2002
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, 3 April 2002
  • Horatio Alger: The Moral of the Story City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • The Czarinas of Beauty City Journal, Summer 2004
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002
  • Love and Glory in East Aurory City Journal, Spring 2007
  • May 1968: 40 Years Later City Journal, Spring 2008
  • Booms and Busts City Journal, Special Issue 2009
  • The Gold Bubble City Journal, Summer 2010


  • Immigration
  • France vs. France City Journal, Winter 2006


  • Islam
  • France vs. France City Journal, Winter 2006
  • Jew Tortured, Times Fiddles City Journal, 7 March 2006


  • Law Enforcement
  • Gun Crazy City Journal, Spring 2003


  • Legal Issues
  • The Scout Wars City Journal, Summer 2001
  • Gun Crazy City Journal, Spring 2003


  • Love and Sex
  • The Scout Wars City Journal, Summer 2001
  • Defending the Indefensible City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • Why the Scouts Ban Homosexuals City Journal, Winter 2002


  • Media
  • Time Heals All Wounds City Journal, Spring 1998
  • Coke Does Right City Journal, Winter 2000
  • Fox Has Morals? City Journal, Winter 2002
  • The New Blacklist City Journal, Summer 2000
  • Time Bombs City Journal, Autumn 1995
  • The Israel-Bashing Media City Journal, 26 April 2002
  • Britzophrenia City Journal, Winter 2004
  • Now That’s Popular Culture! City Journal, Spring 2003
  • See-No-Evil Journalists City Journal, Autumn 2003
  • Rather Not City Journal, Autumn 2004
  • Jew Tortured, Times Fiddles City Journal, 7 March 2006


  • New York City
  • Isaac Singer’s Promised City City Journal, Summer 1997
  • The Consolations of History City Journal, Autumn 2001
  • The Yiddish Theater’s Triumph City Journal, Spring 2004
  • Yuck! City Journal, Summer 2004


  • New York State
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002
  • Expurgated Exams City Journal, Summer 2002
  • Yuck! City Journal, Summer 2004


  • NYC Politics
  • Yuck! City Journal, Summer 2004


  • NYS Politics
  • Yuck! City Journal, Summer 2004


  • Obituaries
  • Warrior Princess City Journal, Autumn 2006


  • Philanthropy
  • Horatio Alger: The Moral of the Story City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • It’s Their Money City Journal, Summer 1999


  • Political Correctness
  • Britzophrenia City Journal, Winter 2004
  • Poshlost at Ground Zero City Journal, Autumn 2005
  • The Scout Wars City Journal, Summer 2001
  • The New Blacklist City Journal, Summer 2000
  • Warrior Princess City Journal, Autumn 2006


  • Politics
  • Defending the Indefensible City Journal, Autumn 2000
  • The New Blacklist City Journal, Summer 2000
  • Rather Not City Journal, Autumn 2004
  • What Ails the Dems? City Journal, Summer 2005


  • Race
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002


  • Race and Ethnicity
  • How to Trivialize the Holocaust City Journal, Spring 2002
  • France vs. France City Journal, Winter 2006


  • School Curriculum and Programs
  • Expurgated Exams City Journal, Summer 2002


  • Technology
  • Just the Highlights City Journal, Summer 2004


  • Underclass
  • France vs. France City Journal, Winter 2006


  • Urban Issues
  • The Scout Wars City Journal, Summer 2001


  • War on Terror
  • America’s Dumbest Intellectual City Journal, Summer 2002
  • See-No-Evil Journalists City Journal, Autumn 2003
  • Berserkeley! City Journal, Autumn 2002
  • What Ails the Dems? City Journal, Summer 2005
  • Peacenik Warmongers City Journal, Autumn 2005


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