Kapuscinski

Ryszard Kapuscinski, one of my own personal idols, has spent his entire life reporting on revolutions across the world. His books include:

Another Day of LIfe – the story of the civil war in Angola. Kapuscinski was there.

The Emperor – the story of the overthrow of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia

The Soccer War – considered a journalism classic. This is Kapuscinski’s compiled writings on all of the revolutions he had witnessed: Central America, Africa, and more. Wherever a revolution broke out, Kapuscinski was there. Great book.

Imperium – maybe my favorite of his. Kapuscinski’s sweeping book on the Soviet Union. As a Polish person, Kapuscinski had personally experienced the tyranny, and this is his book detailing it.

The Shadow of the Sun – Kapuscinski’s latest book. All about Africa – of course focusing on the revolutions. “Revolution” is his theme.

Kapuscinski wrote many of these books while living under Soviet tyranny and oppressing and censorship. He couldn’t write the book he wanted to write, criticizing the Soviet regime – and so he instead wrote books about other countries. But his books are obviously criticisms of totalitarian and fascistic regimes in general – it was his indirect way of telling the truth about what was going on in the Soviet Union.

The first book of his I read was Shah of Shahs – about the last Shah of Iran, and the revolution which toppled him.

Kapuscinski was there.

If you haven’t picked up one of his books, I highly recommend it.

He’s one of those writers who gets his head above the muck, the mire – and can take a long view, a large picture.

In these uncertain times, I think trying to look at a large picture is essential. Even if we have to squint. Robert Kaplan, another hero of mine, is immersing himself in classical history right now, the history of the ancients. There are lessons there for all of us. That’s one of the reasons why I’m finally reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. I need the perspective of history. And long history. Ancient history. We ignore history at our peril.

That is the message of Rebecca West, and it’s Kapuscinski’s message as well.

I’ve compiled a bunch of quotes. It’s the tip of the ice berg. But it gives you a feel for what he’s about, if you haven’t read him.

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3 Responses to Kapuscinski

  1. Good stuff, Sheila.

  2. red says:

    Have you read him, Scott??

  3. red says:

    If I can tell you where to start (heh heh) – I would recommend starting with Soccer War. I would bet that long after his death – that will be the book for which he is remembered.