Books by Ryszard Kapuscinski

TRAVELS WITH HERODOTUS by Ryszard Kapuscinski
Released: June 11, 2007

"Author and subject, student and mentor, are perfectly matched. Illuminating reading for any aspiring journalist or travel writer, for any traveler, for any citizen of the world."
Famed Polish writer and traveler Kapuscinski (The Shadow of the Sun, 2001, etc.), who died in January 2007, pays honor to antiquity's "Father of History." Read full book review >
THE SHADOW OF THE SUN by Ryszard Kapuscinski
Released: April 24, 2001

"A book of many wonders, of unfathomable sadness, of intense quiet and quick violence, of greed and grandeur, of illuminations blindingly bright."
A wrenching, poignant portrait of Africa and Africans by a Polish journalist who first visited the continent in 1957. Read full book review >
IMPERIUM by Ryszard Kapuscinski
Released: Sept. 21, 1994

A Polish journalist (The Soccer War, 1991, etc.) who has written extensively on the Third World turns a discriminating eye on the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, showing once again that Russia is ``a country utterly without precedent.'' The book is based partly on his boyhood experiences of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, partly on his travels (particularly in the period of decline and disintegration, 198991), and partly on his reflections. He brings a sharp perspective even to well-traveled routes: the customs officer sifting with meticulous care through sack after sack of grain, spread out on his table, to see that nothing has been concealed; the death camps of Kolyma, where three million people died, today displaying only the ``rusty carcasses of ships, rotting watchtowers, deep holes from which some kind of ore was once extracted''; the swimming pool where once stood the Temple of Christ the Savior, 30 stories high, which was built with exquisite care by successive czars to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon and which was demolished by Stalin. Kapuciski's political judgments are also fresh: He notes acidly that not one American political scientist predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that some indeed saw it as a model system. Nor does he believe that Gorbachev brought about the break-up of a flourishing USSR, but just the opposite; the USSR had been disintegrating for a long time, and Gorbachev extended its life for as long as possible. It has left a heritage of poverty, deep memories of terror, staggering demoralization, and ecological disaster. The author's prognosis is not reassuring: He quotes Nicholas driving his troika over the fields in Tolstoy's War and Peace, ``Heaven only knows where we are going, and heaven knows what is happening to us.'' Sensitive and searching. (First serial to the New Yorker) Read full book review >
THE SOCCER WAR by Ryszard Kapuscinski
Released: April 16, 1991

Polish foreign correspondent Kapuciski (Another Day of Life, 1986) gives his recollections of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East in this stark, compelling memoir of life in the vortex of modern history. From 1958 to 1976, Kapuciski, a journalist attached to the Polish press agency, moved through some of the most troubled regions of the postwar world. During the Congolese uprisings of 1960, the Algerian coup of 1965, the five-day ``Soccer War'' (ostensibly fought over a football match) between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969-everywhere, he found himself confronted by ``this strange world'' of peoples and nations trapped in the momentum of politics, a momentum that he could not escape himself. In the Congo he was taken for a spy, imprisoned, and very nearly executed; on the back roads of Nigeria he ran afoul of rebel troops, who robbed, beat, and attempted to immolate him. Kapuciski's tone throughout is quick, deft, understated, and manages vividly to convey the sense of overwhelming strangeness, of disorientation that a foreigner would experience in such settings. He succeeds also in nearly outlining the political and historical forces at work in each locale, and in the careers of the leaders of the time: Nkrumah in Ghana, Lumumba in the Congo, Ben Bella in Algeria-''the children of storms and pressures, born of the longings and desires not only of their own countries but of the whole continent.'' The narrative is impressionistic, almost meditative at times-as when the author,arriving in Chile after nearly ten years in Africa, contemplates the bric-a-brac in his furnished rooms and speculates upon the meaning of such collections. The final scene, in which Kapuciski, stranded in Ghana, is asked by a group of villagers to describe life in Poland, has a strongly elegiac tone, building upon those notions of homeland and exile evoked throughout the book. Exciting and profound: a fascinating account of history in the present tense, told with great skill and careful irony. Read full book review >