THE FIRST CASUALTY: From the Crimea to Vietnam: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist and Myth Maker by Phillip Knightley

THE FIRST CASUALTY: From the Crimea to Vietnam: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist and Myth Maker

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Reporting on the reporters, Knightley looks at the rise of the war correspondent from Britain's imperial conflicts in the Sudan and Zululand through the Boer War, WW I, Italy's adventure in Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War, WW II, Korea and Vietnam. The subject--and the amply excerpted dispatches from the front--have enormous intrinsic interest and Knightley's shrewd, sympathetic analysis of the motives and impact of these brave, sometimes reckless, men really sparks this unique book which should extend far beyond the reaches of military history. Censorship and the reporting (or manufacture) of atrocities were thorny issues from the start. Not that all war correspondents believed in objectivity. The Spanish Civil War brought a journalism of passionate advocacy for the Republican side--Orwell, Louis Fischer, Herbert Matthews and Kim Philby all were brilliant partisan journalists as was Hemingway. On the whole Knightley is not impressed with the coverage of Vietnam, the first ""TV war"" and he cites studies that show GIs dying on the home screen influenced public opinion in favor of the U.S. involvement. Finally Knightley looks at ""those correspondents sufficiently frank to admit that there are moments in war when the exhilaration compensates for all the horror""--or, in the words of Horst Fass, ""Vot I like eez boom boom. Oh yes."" Splendidly absorbing.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1975
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich