The New York Review AbroadFifty Years of International Reportage
edited by Robert B. Silvers, with prologues by Ian Buruma
Over the past fifty years, The New York Review of Books has covered virtually every international war, revolution, and event of consequence by dispatching the world's most brilliant writers to send back eyewitness accounts. The New York Review Abroad not only brings together twenty-seven of the most riveting of these pieces but includes prologues that update and reassess the political situation they describe.
Among the pieces included are: Susan Sontag's personal narrative of staging Waiting for Godot in war-torn Sarajevo; V.S. Naipaul's visit to Argentina, which includes a mesmerizing account of the cult of Evita; Ryszard Kapuscinski's terrifying description of being set on fire while running roadblocks in Nigeria; a fellow dissident's chilling narrative of Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner's persecution and tormented daily life under a totalitarian regime; Caroline Blackwood's coverage of the gravediggers' strike in Liverpool in 1979, a mini-masterpiece of noir; and Timothy Garton Ash's minute-by-minute account from the Magic Lantern theater in Prague in 1989, where the subterranean stage, auditorium, and dressing rooms had become the headquarters of the revolution.
Among other writers whose New York Review articles appear are Tim Judah, Amos Elon, William Shawcross, Rosemary Dinnage, Ian Buruma, and Nadine Gordimer.
Joan Didion's famous piece on El Salvador is included, as well as the communique from the dissident Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko, which was smuggled out of Poland. Its devastating last line is "I am prepared for anything." By the time the piece appeared in December 1984, Father Popieluszko had been abducted and murdered by Polish security forces.
The book, which is arranged chronologically, starts with two stellar pieces from the Sixties: Mary McCarthy's report from Vietnam at the height of the war, followed by Stephen Spender's report from the barricades during the student uprising in Paris in 1968. The pieces crisscross South America and Africa, Tibet and China, the former Soviet Union, Haiti and Cuba, and conclude with a stunning group of dispatches from the Middle East: Mark Danner in Baghdad, Jonathan Freedland in Hebron, Yasmine El Rashidi in Egypt, Christopher de Bellaigue in Turkey, and a chilling account of Palestinian suicide bombers by Avishai Margalit.
A tour de force of vivid and enlightening writing from the front lines, this volume is indeed the first rough draft of the history of the past fifty years.
These skilled essayists offer vivid descriptions that can sometimes be hard to stomach—but if we don't see the cycles of history play out from one decade to the next, we may be doomed to repeat them.
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