Synopses & Reviews
For the past fifty years, The New York Review of Books
has covered virtually every international revolution and movement of consequence by dispatching the world’s most brilliant writers to write eyewitness accounts. The New York Review Abroad
not only brings together twenty-eight of the most riveting of these pieces but includes epilogues that update and reassess the political situation (by either the original authors or by Ian Buruma). Among the pieces included are:
• Susan Sontag’s personal narrative of staging Waiting for Godot in war-torn Sarajevo
• Alma Guillermoprieto’s report from inside Colombia’s guerrilla headquarters and her disturbing encounter with young female fighters
• Ryszard Kapuscinski’s terrifying description of being set on fire while running roadblocks in Nigeria
• Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov’s somber autobiographical account of one man’s attempt to live morally under a totalitarian regime
• Caroline Blackwood’s coverage of the 1979 gravediggers’ strike in Liverpool—a noir mini-masterpiece
• Timothy Garton Ash’s minute-by-minute account from the Magic Lantern theater in Prague in 1989, where the subterranean stage, auditorium, foyers, and dressing rooms had become the headquarters of the revolution
Among other writers whose New York Review pieces will be included are Tim Judah, Amos Elon, Joan Didion, William Shawcross, Christopher de Bellaigue, and Mark Danner.
A tour de force of vivid and enlightening writing from the front lines, this volume is indeed the first rough draft of the history of the past fifty years.
"The 27 essays in this collection illustrate just how much misfortune can be packed into 50 years: reporters go where the conflicts are, and the portrait they paint of the world is bleak. The book moves freely from country to country, crisis to crisis, and only chronology dictates the transition from gravediggers on strike in Liverpool to the mental health system of India. But more than a quarter of the book was written after 9/11, and with the exception of the very last essay (on Haiti), the focus of that portion narrows abruptly to current events in the Middle East. These recent essays offer patterns that illuminate history. For example, the self-delusion of 'springy, zesty, burning-eyed warriors' rebuilding Vietnam in 1967 echoes America's sloppy rush to 'install democracy' in Iraq 40-odd years later. These skilled essayists offer vivid descriptions that can sometimes be hard to stomach but if we don't see the cycles of history play out from one decade to the next, we may be doomed to repeat them." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Robert B. Silvers is the editor of The New York Review of Books
, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2013. He was a founding co-editor with Barbara Epstein, with whom he worked from 1963 until her death in 2006. He has edited several essay anthologies featuring New York Review
contributors, including both volumes of The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships
Ian Buruma, a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, is the Henry R. Luce Professor at Bard and a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library. His latest book is Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents.