A small but crucial sampling of war reporting by one of the finest journalists of her generation.
Marie Colvin (1956–2012) was one hell of a reporter, right up to the point where she was killed by an IED while under intense shelling by the Syrian government. This collection only scratches the surface of nearly 20 years of war reporting for the Sunday Times, but it’s a remarkable portrait of the raw wounds of conflicts that burn on, even in times the Western world considers to be “peace.” The collection is sensibly divided into both chronological and geographical sections, and it spans the globe. If there was a hot spot in the world, Colvin seems to have gotten there, from the war in Libya to the genocides in Kosovo to the disproportionate response of Moscow to the Chechen uprisings. There are unusual interviews with figures like Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gadhafi, but one of Colvin’s many gifts was ferreting out the story of the common people suffering through unimaginable horrors—e.g., the girls raped as the result of systemized terror under Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe; the untrained, illiterate forces of the Afghani military expected to take over for the full force and fury of the American incursion. If journalists are expected to suffer for their stories, Colvin paid the full price for capturing these stories: Her nose was broken by a rock thrown by Palestinian demonstrators while she was posing as a Jewish settler; her eye was punctured by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade in Sri Lanka, an event that led to her iconic eye patch. In her 2001 acceptance speech for a humanitarian award for courage, she pondered whether the stories were worth the damage: “Simply: there’s no way to cover war properly without risk. Covering a war means going into places torn apart by chaos, destruction, death and pain, and trying to bear witness to that.”
More than just a war story; a harrowing examination of the tolls of the world’s conflicts.