A leftist who experienced the West as the South.
January 9, 2013 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Journalism and Revolution is a review from Dissent Magazine about the biography of Ryszard Kapuściński. This was Neal Ascherson in LRB.
Both of which are very different from Jack Shafer´s take down obituary piece in Slate.
posted by adamvasco (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
That LRB piece by Neil Ascherson was stunning; a great mass of knowledge and understanding twirled about more deftly and tossed up into the light for the pleasure and edification of his audience more dazzlingly than any marching band leader's baton could ever be.
posted by jamjam at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2013

Neal Ascherson.
posted by jamjam at 12:36 PM on January 9, 2013

I haven't read any of Kapuściński's work. The sympathetic reviews concede that it's full of lies. The unsympathetic one says the same, but not as a concession. Somehow, I don't feel put off. I want to go read The Emperor.

I'll just second jamjam's opinion, which is well put.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:36 PM on January 9, 2013

Journalism and Revolution is a review from Dissent Magazine about the biography of Ryszard Kapuściński.

While I disagreed with a lot of what this review had to say about Kapuściński's writing, it also made me rethink what I've read. Thanks for posting.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:48 PM on January 9, 2013

1. He appears to be a complex individual, like many of us and especially writers.
2. I always get a kick out of journalists crying about the sanctity of journalism - hogwash.
posted by incandissonance at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah, I just realized that all three articles are about Kapuściński. Great post. I disagree with the tone of the Slate article. Foreign correspondents always get it wrong - journalism is always a sort of meta-fiction anyway.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:07 PM on January 9, 2013

KokuRyu, lines like that in William Langewiesche's account of his trip across the Sahara made my eye twitch. My desire to go read The Emperor isn't quite as strong as it was four hours ago.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:49 PM on January 9, 2013

Here is an extract from The Soccer War, a book I first encountered via Tom Wolfe; The New Journalism. Unfortunately I can´t find an extract from Emperor.
posted by adamvasco at 2:33 PM on January 9, 2013


Being a Polish writer between '39 and '90 involved many difficult choices. To say one thing without seeming to say another, when that is exactly what you want the reader to glean, was quite the challenge.

Much of my father's family stayed behind in '39. They wrote letters full of obvious lies because they were trying to tell us something else that they could not just come out and say. We never heard squat from the part of the family that lived in the areas annexed by the Soviets.

My father's older brothers made their way West and fought another losing battle in France. They returned to France with the US Army in '44. As far as I can tell, they were absolute hell on wheels.

They were thoroughly broken men after the war. Their country was no more. All for naught.

Give Kapuściński a break.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:38 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

John Keegan's Six Armies in Normandy has a big, fat, detailed chapter about the Poles. Very gallant, and very tragic, considering what the Germans and then the Russians did to them.

I happen to like Kapuściński quite a bit, although it's always good to read critically, especially when generalist writers are writing about specific countries.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:57 PM on January 9, 2013

I wasn't trying to call you out Koku. This post made me remember dead men and old stories.

Imagine my uncles surprise when the construction battalion Soviet POWs they were supervising were shipped to the gulags with Allied consent. Beastly.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:26 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, I don't think you were trying to call me out! In regards to shipping former Soviet prisoners to the gulag, I believe the reasoning was that they should have died fighting, and not given up. Nazism and Stalinism are two sides of the same coin.

Anyway, viewing Kapuściński through a leftist/progressive/politically correct prism seems anachronistic. Things have changed, although this post does take me back to reading Granta in the 1990's.

For some reason these critiques of Kapuściński makes me recall an essay by Timothy Garton Ash where he talks about attending a concert in Prague in 1994. Socialism has been defeated, and in it's place is the first prize of a Fiat Punto.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:41 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older The Phantom Phonebooth   |   RIP Sol Yurick Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments