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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
10
The Faber Book of Reportage
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on 8 September 2013
This was a fascinating collection to dip in and out of in small doses. Reading too much of it in one sitting would have been a bit overwhelming and - certainly in the latter 20th century chapters - also somewhat depressing. Such is the perhaps unfortunate emphasis on military history and various violent episodes, particularly in the modern era, that it loses a star for my rating. There are many chapters here though also of a social history bent - including pieces from historic medical notes, notorious crimes, and also several great natural events such as Pliny on the eruption of Vesuvius, a 1724 solar eclipse, and Jack London on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

There are many gripping and unique perspectives given throughout this book to much of human history. That said, there is precious little from African, Latin American, or Asian history (unless there is a colonial, pseudo-colonial or ex-colonial war going on...). But if it's battles, assassinations, plagues, historic firsts, executions, exploration and great acts of derring-do, advancements in technology, ritual practices, prisons, mutinies, revolutions, and sporting occasions you're after - then this is the book for you!

Many excerpts stood out, making the collection well worth it if you can find a used copy online or happen upon one in a used bookshop. There were also a fair few less memorable pieces. With just a handful shy of 300 contributions, totaling 686 pages that is inevitable. Some of my personal favourites were: Plato on the death of Socrates; 3 different eye-witness reports of the sinking of the Titanic; Dinner with Atilla the Hun in about the year 450; The artist Oskar Kokoschka with Austrian cavalry on the Eastern Front in 1915; Noel Monks' report from Guernica - just before AND after the German bombing - incredibly moving; Cecil Brown's ship-borne report from the Japanese air & submarine attack (read sinking) of HMS Prince of Wales & HMS Repulse, in Singapore just a few days after Pearl Harbor - shocking in its rapidity; and Charlotte Bronte inside the Great Exhibition's Crystal Palace.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 November 2014
This is collection of short descriptive pieces, some no more than a page and seldom more than half a dozen, mostly written by eyewitnesses to the events described. They range in time from 430 BC to 1986 AD.

The dominant theme is conflict and its accompanying horrors, with atrocity stories to the fore. Examples are: the massacre of prisoners by Richard I after Richard I after taking Acre in 1191; the murders of English women and children by Indians at Cawnpore in 1857; the horrors of the German concentration camps in WW2, with their sadistic medical `experiments'; and many, many others. There are also grim descriptions from civilian life, such as: the Black Death of 1348; the burning of Archbishop Cramer at the stake in 1556; and the barbaric behaviour meted out to slaves in the West Indies. Horrific as these accounts are, they are often also very moving, such as the description of the death of Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and Fanny Burney's account of her mastectomy without anesthetics in 1811. There are also lighter, more cheerful, pieces such as Marconi's account of sending the first radio signal across the Atlantic in 1901, and Jan Morris' account of the first ascent of Everest in 1953.

These examples give some account of the impressively wide range of topics in the book, which are the result of much reading by the editor and, as he admits, much badgering of friends and acquaintances for suggestions. The result is a superb volume. Open it at any page and one can find an engrossing account of some event that almost invariably gives one a new insight, even if the subject described is well known. However, because of the unremitting horror of much that is reported, it is best sampled in small doses.
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on 8 May 2000
This book has large numbers of very 'rave' reviews on the cover, and indeed it is one of the most extraordinarily interesting books you could hope to read. You can open it at any page and be instantly gripped. As an anthology with a mixture of shorter and longer reports across most of human history, it has lots to interest anyone. I've recommended it as presents for people (which can be difficult with books) and they always love it.
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on 11 December 2012
Received this book as a gift and have subsequently bought it for two other people. Found it fascinating to read eye witness accounts by journalists and lay people present at major historic events throughout the centuries. It is the sort of book that is ideal for dipping in and out of whilst maybe reading other books as most of the entries are only a few paragraphs or a few pages. Some very graphic accounts and some very moving accounts
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on 11 June 2006
If, like me, you sometimes find yourself struggling to lose yourself in a book (or cannot find a book that draws you in), this is for you. A collection of journalistic pieces covering great and mundane events from 430 BC to 1986 AD, from reports on the eruption of Vesuvius to the Fire of London to the first landing on the moon, The Faber Book of Reportage will captivate you. All the better for the excellence of the writing (authors include Julius Caesar, Josephus, Charles Dickens, Captain Scott, and more), and for the enthralling realisation that the happenings described actually occurred.
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on 30 June 2010
I must have read each of the pieces in this book at least 4 or 5 times. It's a great format - short, eyewitness accounts of historical events, each completely compelling.
I am waiting for the 'The Second Faber Book of Reportage' but it doesn't appear to be on its way.
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on 8 November 2012
Whether history fascinates you or not this is a very unique collection of contemporary 'reports' on various well known points in our world's chequered history and man's seemingly destructive road to ruin. This is a volume that belongs in everyone's library.
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on 28 October 2009
The Faber Book of Reportage: A book full of fascinating details and insights for anyone even just slightly historically minded. Well written, absorbing and very interesting, at the same time easy to read and entertaining. I can highly recommend it.
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on 15 October 2012
A fascinating and informative read. The sort of book you can pick up and select and browse in those spare moments.
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on 5 March 2015
good book.
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