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The Kindness of Strangers : The Autobiography [Paperback]

Kate Adie
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Jun 2003
Kate Adie's story is an unusual one. Raised in post-war Sunderland, where life was 'a sunny experience, full of meat-paste sandwiches and Sunday school', she has reported memorably and courageously from many of the world's trouble spots since she joined the BBC in 1969. THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS encompasses Adie's reporting from, inter alia, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Tiananmen Square and, of course, the Gulf War of 1991. It offers a compelling combination of vivid frontline reporting and evocative writing and reveals the extraordinarily demanding life of the woman who is always at the heart of the action. Although an intensely private person, Kate Adie also divulges what it's like to be a woman in a man's world - an inspiration to many working women.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; Reprint edition (2 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075531073x
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755310739
  • ASIN: 075531073X
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Sharp, witty and full of insights into the BBC and the sometimes crazed world of broadcasting (Daily Express)

Book Description

The compelling career autobiography of the BBC's Chief News Correspondent

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down 26 Nov 2002
If you area contemporary of Kate Adie and grew up in England in the 50s and 60s you will relate to much in this book - from the overhang of WW II, to dreary council estates and pirate radio. But it is from about 1970 that your world and that of Kate Adie will probably diverge. Kate takes us through an incredible journey of local radio and TV, ultimately reporting from many of the world's major trouble spots. Of course if you live in England you know her well. If, like me, you've lived overseas for the past twenty years you have probably never heard of her.
Her book is a gripping behind the scenes look at how the news is made and the risks and sacrifices that someone with a seemingly glamorous job has to make - including 3 bullet wounds. It is somewhat disconcerting to realize that the reporters can sometimes be in greater danger than the military - at least the latter are trained and have weapons to defend themselves.
Early on in the book Kate tries a little too hard to be witty and amusing in just about every sentence - but this becomes less noticeable and irritating as the action moves to the streets of Belfasts or Sarajevo.
Although it is an autobiography, Kate reveals practically nothing of her personal life - the odd mention of a boyfriend or a family gathering. Perhaps she intended it that way, or perhaps her work is her life.
In the final chapter she summarizes the changes occurring in TV news - instant satellite pictures, dumbed down chatty shows etc. Much different from her hey day of lying in a trench somewhere with bullets wizzing overhead. She cannot resist the odd jibe but the punches seem to be pulled.
She makes much of the difficulties of succeeding in a man's world ..
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Kate brings the news to you 4 Dec 2004
When I was 19 and a naive and carefree student, I had an older boyfriend of 25 who had just come out of the army. He used to tease me about my privileged lifestyle, and told me that when he was 19, he had been serving in Northern Ireland. A woman once came up to him and demanded to know what he was doing in her town guarding a checkpoint with a gun. 'It made me think,' he said. That story is one thing that helped me understand the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The other is a chapter headed 'Northern Ireland Perhaps' in this book.
Reporter Kate Adie describes the horrors of this war which, according to the BBC, should not be called a war. Her Northern Ireland is populated by grey-faced people who hate each other, '...a mass of badly nourished bags of nerves'. She tells of fights breaking out at funerals, of riots stopping dead because a Glasgow Rangers match was about to start. Of bleach thrown at soldiers, of soldiers sweeping ornaments from a woman's mantelpiece.
She recounts how her career took her from local radio where there was some question as to whether anybody was listening; to Libya, where someone was listening even when she wasn't on air - if you wanted room service, the best way to get it was to ring London and complain about how slow it was.
As with many autobiographies of women doing traditional men's work, the personal details were fascinating - the anecdote about what happened to the grubby tabloid hack going through her tent while she was reporting the first Gulf War was particularly good. This book also shows clearly that our Kate can use her elbows and fists if she has to.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pick of the crop 19 Aug 2003
The world is not short of books of memoirs by journalists, but this is one of the best.
About her early career in local radio, Adie is screamingly funny. Not in an arch, here comes the next anecdote, sort of way, but in the dead pan style of Three Men in a Boat - one thing happened, and then another, and the next, apparently not noticing that the reader is rocking with laughter.
When she gets to her later career in TV News, the laughs disappear, because this is serious stuff. She is very illuminating about the differencec between the news as the journalist sees it, and how it ends up on our TV screens. She has been to many of the big news events of the last twenty years , and this book gives a new insight into most of them.
You don't see much of Kate Adie in this - you see what she saw. But what she saw is fascinating - and extremely well written.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Written with humour and compassion 22 Feb 2004
Kate Adie is, of course, very well known in the UK for always being in the thick of the action. Here she tells us what it is like behind the scenes, what she saw but could not adequately report (had to report facts, not emotions). Adie takes us through war zones, earthquake ruins, royal tours and massacres. She is human and recounts events that have moved her whilst regaling us with stories of journalistic incompetence (hers and others). It is reassuring to know she is fallible and is not afraid to tell us about her mistakes. The major events are not always covered chronologically which can be confusing and there is very little reference to a personal life, which is intriguing. She may have preferred not to reveal such details but you are left wondering how did she maintain relationships whilst stuck in the desert or dodging sniper fire? You know she is adopted and discovered her biological mother, but you get no details. She only mentions briefly her childhood and her student days, before she moves onto life in local radio.
The first and last chapters of the book are very odd. In the first she comes across as quite arrogant and the last (a postscript) she appears to want to teach us about how broadcasting and reporting have changed in recent years.
This should not to detract from the rest of the book, which is first class. Describing how her and her crew were befriended by locals in unusual circumstances, such as the family that were homeless after the Armenian earthquake offering them half their meagre supper without a second thought, which prompted the title of this book. Her human, compassionate interpretation can be very moving, yet uplifting, but does not detract from the events themselves. Anecdotes about journalists falling into trenches, going to the toilet in the desert with 2000 men and shoe shopping in Beirut keep us amused also.
I would highly recommend this book to biography fans as well as those with an interest in current affairs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account. Very witty and at times light-hearted ...
A fascinating account. Very witty and at times light-hearted, despite the serious nature of much of the subject matter. An insight into a very courageous lady!
Published 20 days ago by Lynne Vernon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great read, well written and very interesting book.
Published 1 month ago by Dymphnamarie
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Brought for my mother as a stocking filler for Christmas, a very interesting in site to a very interesting person.
Published 8 months ago by Honeybun
1.0 out of 5 stars It is a Christmas present for a friend
I have just one star so that I could write here and explain.

It was a Christmas Present to a friend and I have had no feed back.
Published 9 months ago by ben foundling
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic lady!
We've been Kate Adie fans for ages. You know the news isn't really important unless Kate's there. A brave and thoughtful woman.
Published 10 months ago by Mike Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Wonderfully crafted autobiography of her broadcasting years. Let's you in on the background to some of the most important events of the late 20th Century.
Published 13 months ago by SargeNorthampton
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
As you might expect from Kate Adie, an excellent book that details her early life through to becoming the top war correspondent. Read more
Published 14 months ago by David Butcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Kate Adie
A most interesting read. Kate Adie is a natural which of course you would expect from a journalist. She is a real adventurer, takes chances, and somehow comes out smiling. Read more
Published 16 months ago by E. Stringer
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read!
I looked forward to reading this book as a book club choice but was sadly disappointed with the content. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Anne Carter
4.0 out of 5 stars Present
Can't really comment, but Kate Adie always makes things interesting on the radio, so this looked to be a good book to give away.
Published 19 months ago by Mrs. C. M
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