on 11 September 2000
No shortage of books at the moment chronicling the nasty wars of the 1990s, but don't miss this one.
As a former foreign correspondent (London based, for Australian television) I also spent time in Somalia, Rwanda and Sudan. I picked up this book out of curiosity but without much in the way of expectations.
Having read it, I am stunned and in awe.
There are many more famous and exalted names in foreign journalism than Scott Peterson's - at least until now. The sheer passion of his reporting, the level of his commitment, his fearlessness both when faced by African violence and the equally grotesque rationalisations of those who clumsily intervene (and those who fail to intervene) deserve him a place in the highest rankings.
He stuck with Somalia when most of the rest of the world lost interest (I plead guilty). He took trouble to understand the Somali perspective when most others saw simply an American story. He writes illuminatingly about Sudan - perhaps the world's most overlooked warzone, rich in terrible, pointless loss. His writings of Rwanda add renewed freshness to the gut-churning horrors of the genocide - after Gourevitch's "We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Familes" apparently left little more to be said.
Peterson returns the degraded craft of journalism to its purest form: he bears witness. He risks his life to do so. He loses friends. He confesses his fear. He disdains received wisdom. He redeems the lazy journalism of the pampered hacks with one eye on the room service menu and the other on how well their "heroism" will play back home.
Anyone with an interest in Africa, reporting, the nature of the human condition, the politics of humanitarian intervention, or just a damn good, disturbing read about the ways of the world would do well to read this book.
on 13 July 2001
If you are interested in the dynamics of a crisis situation; the motivation of the local people, Heads of State, The United Nations, War Lords, Relief Agencies, etc. this book is indispensable. This book is a gift from Scott Peterson, a journalist and expert anaysist, who was at times one of very few outside eyes watching events that the world must hear about.
on 29 April 2006
A brave man, but not all knowing or wise. How can there possibly be moral equivalence between the perpetrators of the killing and corruption in Africa and the Us and UN who went there to help but made a mess of it. Is there equivalence between imperfection and murder? Typical of a humanist, he can't see the wood for the trees. Well intentioned, but that is all. When will Africans ever be held accountable for their own crimes by journalists such as these?