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Across The Red River Paperback – 1 Feb 2001
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Christian Jennings is not a man to rest on his laurels. Not content with the rigours of the French Foreign Legion (documented in his first book, A Mouthful of Rocks, he flew to Rwanda in August 1994 with a rucksack of provisions, The Day of the Jackal, and a self-confessed ignorance of the country beyond the knowledge that 850,000 people had just been slaughtered in brutal acts of genocide. Also, he had a television producer on her way who wanted to find the people responsible within the five-day span of her trip. Apart from the miraculous completion of that programme, the other thing to emerge from this immersion into the landscape of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, was a fascination with Central Africa that saw Jennings return again and again. He was to report for Sunday Telegraph and Reuters in Rwanda, its sibling-in-horror Burundi, and the former Zaire with fearful bravery, but in the impressive Across the Red River he navigates the territory between reportage and memoir. Cleverly matching his learning curve to the reader's, he moves from his virtual ignorance of Rwanda and its mesh of tragedy to a deeper understanding of the weave and durability of that net, achieved with a flowing and refreshing candour. If there are two lines of war journalism, with writers such as Michael Ignatieff providing a more intellectual overview from the hills, Christian Jennings is on the frontline with souls such as Maggie O'Kane, Eve-Ann Prentice and Anthony Loyd. As with the latter's My War Gone By, I Miss It So, Jennings is able to unbridle his sense of self to stirring effect and show the mundane tedium as well as the brutal tension of reporting from, and surviving in, war. Occasionally angry, more often darkly funny, his book proves an unsettling yet riveting critique of the unimaginable effects of genocide, those who feed off its corpse and the few, like Jennings, who live to open our eyes. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A devastating account of the Central African nightmareSee all Product description
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I myself prefer books which are objective historical accounts, rather than personal ones, but Jennings' book is still a very good book. I recommend reading Gerard Prunier's "Rwanda in Crisis", along with this one.
In a similiar vein to My War Gone By (I Miss It So), this book is very honest, in as much as we can take the authors bias into account. The book covers Jennings days as a journalist covering events in central africa throughout a particuliarly bloody and chaotic period, genocide civil wars refuggee camps and so on.
Although hesitant to call this gonzo journalism, its imposiible not to draw parallels with Salvador and the previously mentioned MWGBIMIS.
The personal elemnt weaves nicely throughout the amzing events which are unfolding around the author, and the perspective he provides is incredibly insightful, The various AID and NGO agencies present in Rwanda and Burundi come across as more ainding and abetting and they dont come out of this in a favorable light to say the least.
It's told by a jounalist with an understanding of the politics, a grip of sufficient detail, and without the egocentric style that 'war reporters' often succumb to. For me it was almost unputdownable.
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