In corners of the globe where fault-lines seethe into bloodshed and civil war, foreign correspondents have, for hundreds of years, been engaged in uncovering the latest news and – despite obstacles bureaucratic, political, violent – reporting it by whatever means available. It’s a working life that is difficult, exciting and undeniably glamorous. We Chose to Speak of War and Strife brings us pivotal moments in our history – from the Crimean War to Vietnam; the siege of Sarajevo to the fall of Baghdad – through the eyes of those who risked life and limb to witness them first hand, and the astonishing tales of what it took to report them. These stories celebrate an endangered tradition. Where once despatches were trusted to the hands of a willing sea-captain, telegraph operator or stranger in an airport queue prepared to spirit a can of undeveloped film back to London, today the digital realm has transformed the relaying of the news – even if the work of gathering it in the field has changed little. Weaving the tales of the greats of yesterday and today, such as Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway, Don McCullin and Marie Colvin, with extraordinary accounts from his own lifetime on the frontlines, this is a deeply personal book from a master of the profession, the most distinguished foreign correspondent of our time.
John Simpson is the BBC’s World Affairs Editor. In a BBC career spanning fifty years he has reported on major world events from all corners of the globe, and was made a CBE in the Gulf War honours list in 1991. He has twice been the Royal Television Society’s Journalist of the Year, and has won three BAFTAs, the News and Current Affairs award in 2000 for his coverage, with the BBC News team, of the Kosovo conflict, and, in 2001, an Emmy for his report on the fall of Kabul. He has written four bestselling volumes of autobiography: Strange Places, Questionable People; A Mad World, My Masters; News from No Man’s Land and, more recently, Not Quite World’s End. He lives in Oxford.