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.