Joan Didion (; born December 5, 1934) is an American essayist known for conveying her moral sensibility through a highly accomplished use of syntax. In the late 1960s, Didion's reportage brought Californian subcultures to wider attention. Her political writing often concentrated on the subtext of rhetoric. In 1991 she wrote the earliest mainstream media article to suggest the Central Park Five had been wrongfully convicted. In 2005, she won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography for The Year of Magical Thinking. She later adapted the book into a play, which premiered on Broadway in 2007. In 2017, Didion was profiled in the Netflix documentary The Center Will Not Hold, directed by her nephew Griffin Dunne.
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How easy it is for generous sentiments, high courtesy, and chivalrous courage to lose their influence beneath the chilling blight of selfishness, and to exhibit to the world a man who was great in all the minor attributes of character, but who was found wanting when it became necessary to prove how much principle is superior to policy.
The secret point of money and power in America is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power's sake . . . but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy. It is the instinct which drove America to the Pacific, all through the nineteenth century, the desire to be able to find a restaurant open in case you want a sandwich, to be a free agent, live by one's own rules.