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A good book, but is it really candid?
on 10 July 2003
Max Hastings portrays himself in this book as self-deprecating and candid.
In a sense he is when writing, but I couldn't help feeling there was an element of charade here. Hastings describes how he wasn't up to much as a soldier doing national service. But he gives no explanation of how he managed to cover the race riots in America as his first journalistic assignment. The most likely explanation is that he was helped by his parents' connections, but he appears not even to acknowledge this or explain his good fortune.
Also, you can't help noticing the point at which he contemplates marooning a friend and fellow reporter, so he can be first with the story.
He often says what he did, but hides how he managed to do it. For example, just how did he become friendly with SAS commander Michael Rose in the Falklands? He doesn't say. Again, you wonder if he is candid when it suits him, but hides his ruthless streak.
Such things make it harder to like the author, and as such make it harder to enjoy what is otherwise an excellent book.