TRIAL BY FIRE: A Woman Correspondent's Journey to the Frontline by Kathleen Barnes

TRIAL BY FIRE: A Woman Correspondent's Journey to the Frontline

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Barnes's high-adventure autobiography chronicles six years of her life as she transforms from a stagnating small-town newspaper reporter to a foreign correspondent covering the Philippines for ABC radio. At age 35, Barnes quit her marriage and her job to work as a free-lance foreign correspondent. A year later, working for ABC and drawn to the Philippines by an urge to understand the roots of political violence, she found herself learning about life in a civil-war zone. Barnes witnessed the horrors of a pediatric malnutrition ward, garbage-eating slum children, and guerrilla camps; then she received death threats, was kidnapped by Marcos stooges, and saw friends murdered. Here, she speaks of her disgust for brutal military men who tortured critics, and of her attraction to leftist organizers who united to march in the streets to bring down Marcos and who later went their separate ways to fight for change under Corazon Aquino. Barnes's suspense-filled accounts of the fall of Mattes (which include her tale of an interview with the Philippine dictator), of the coups that followed, and of other crises are emotionally charged and gripping; so much so, in fact, that the more autobiographical elements of Barnes's tale, despite their often florid telling (""My knees turned to water just like in a bad novel""), come off as flat and relatively unimportant. An absorbing account of recent events in the Philippines, but less successful as a portrait of a woman correspondent's life; for that, the best recent work remains Haiti-based Amy Wilentz's The Rainy Season (1989).

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0595469965
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth