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Just the singer in the band . . .
on 1 April 2012
There's a line in this book by Sky News' reporter Alex Crawford, where she reveals that she hates just 'reporting news', ie passing on details of things that have already happened. Instead, she much prefers to be there while events are actually unfolding - and that's exactly what she managed for 6 months spanning the middle of 2011 when the Arab Spring saw Libya eventually flower from tyranny into freedom. And Crawford was there at every key step along the way - dodging bullets, chasing stories, evading road blocks, and generally being ahead of the press pack in telling the World what it needed to be told. The result is an electrifying book - more like one long-running, breathless, hand-held camera shot through a war zone, than a conventional news memoir. It has real pace and emotional power - so much so, that despite the compulsion to keep turning the pages, there are times when you just can't, and you have to pause to regroup and realign your own emotional reserves. The action follows the ebb and flow of the rebels' efforts to unseat Gaddafi, starting with a near death experience in Zawiya and ending with the tumultuous events in Tripoli when Crawford really was in the vanguard of history being made, courtesy of a cigarette-lighter-charged-camera in the back of a pick-up truck. But there's much more to this book than the whizz-bangs of battle - the human cost, to the ordinary people of Libya, the incredible Libyan doctors, the defeated Gaddafi forces, and the journalists themselves is laid bare for us all to feel at first hand. Make no mistake, this is not the story of one reporter - it is a tribute to all of them, and what they go through to bring us our view of the World. Crawford's story is shot through with her gratitude and affection to those who run with her through the narrow Libyan streets - the cameramen, the producers, the Mr Fixits, all helping her get big stories on air. She describes herself as just happening to be 'the singer in the band'. Well, she's some singer, and this is some song.