Ryszard Kapuscinski: A Life [NOOK Book]

Overview

Reporting from such varied locations as postcolonial Africa, revolutionary Iran, the military dictatorships of Latin America and Soviet Russia, the Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapu ci ski was one of the most influential eyewitness journalists of the twentieth century. During the Cold War, he was a dauntless investigator as well as a towering literary talent, and books such as The Emperor and Travels with Herodotus founded the new genre of ‘literary reportage’. It was an achievement that brought him ...
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Ryszard Kapuscinski: A Life

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Overview

Reporting from such varied locations as postcolonial Africa, revolutionary Iran, the military dictatorships of Latin America and Soviet Russia, the Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapu ci ski was one of the most influential eyewitness journalists of the twentieth century. During the Cold War, he was a dauntless investigator as well as a towering literary talent, and books such as The Emperor and Travels with Herodotus founded the new genre of ‘literary reportage’. It was an achievement that brought him global renown, not to mention the uninvited attentions of the CIA.

In this definitive biography, Artur Domos awski shines a new light on the personal relationships of this intensely charismatic, deeply private man, examining the intractable issue at the heart of Kapu ci ski’s life and work: the relationship and tension between journalism and literature.

In researching this book, Domos awski, himself an award-winning foreign correspondent, enjoyed unprecedented access to Kapu ci ski’s private papers. The result traces his mentor’s footsteps through Africa and Latin America, delves into files and archives that Kapu ci ski himself examined, and records conversations with the people that he talked to in the course of his own investigations. Ryszard Kapu ci ski is a meticulous, riveting portrait of a complex man of intense curiosity living at the heart of dangerous times.
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Editorial Reviews

Neil Ascherson
[A] compelling, exhaustive and often upsetting book... Domoslawski has written a book which is three sorts of cautionary tale: about journalism engaged or disengaged, about the political maze through which intelligent Poles made their way in the later 20th century, about the endless capacity of human beings to believe their own fictions and keep secrets from themselves.
The London Review of Books
Columbia Journalism Review
“Exhaustive and focused … substantial and interesting ... a real contribution to our understanding of Kapuscinski.”
Booklist
“A candid biography [written] in hopes of understanding both Kapuscinski’s enigmatic personality and, on a more abstract level, whether journalism is big or brave enough to include more ‘literary approaches.’”
Financial Times
“The first real biography of Kapuscinski.”
Guardian
“A truly great achievement.”
New Yorker
“Domoslawski seems fascinated by moral gray areas—Kapuscinski neglected his family, had affairs, spied for Poland’s government, and maintained his Party membership until 1981—but he always takes a lenient view.”
London Review of Books
Domoslawski’s book is a poignant feat of biography, not only because he trekked all over the world on Kapuscinski’s trail, but because it reopens dilemmas of integrity and conscience that are still painful for any journalist who tried to report the big world in the late twentieth century … [a] compelling, exhaustive and often upsetting book.— Neal Ascherson
Economist
“A compelling and controversial biography … Mr Domoslawski was a friend of the great man; but resolved to treat his life as a subject for serious inquiry, setting out with an open mind and detailed knowledge, and adding more insights and evidence along the way. The result is an exemplary explanation of what made Kapuscinski tick.”
Neal Ascherson - London Review of Books
“Domoslawski’s book is a poignant feat of biography, not only because he trekked all over the world on Kapuscinski’s trail, but because it reopens dilemmas of integrity and conscience that are still painful for any journalist who tried to report the big world in the late twentieth century … [a] compelling, exhaustive and often upsetting book.”
Zygmunt Bauman
“A great book about a great man.”
Financial Times - Peter Englund
“The first real biography of Kapuscinski.”
Observer - Ian Birrell
“Not just a fascinating biography of an important writer but also a subtle study of life under authoritarianism, with all the compromises and complexities that entails.”
Bookforum
“The first definitive biography … Sympathetic while investigative and critical.”
London Review of Books - Neal Ascherson
“Domoslawski’s book is a poignant feat of biography, not only because he trekked all over the world on Kapuscinski’s trail, but because it reopens dilemmas of integrity and conscience that are still painful for any journalist who tried to report the big world in the late twentieth century … [a] compelling, exhaustive and often upsetting book.”
Peter Englund - Financial Times
“The first real biography of Kapuscinski.”
Ian Birrell - Observer
“Not just a fascinating biography of an important writer but also a subtle study of life under authoritarianism, with all the compromises and complexities that entails.”
From the Publisher
“Not just a fascinating biography of an important writer but also a subtle study of life under authoritarianism, with all the compromises and complexities that entails.”—Ian Birrell, Observer

“Domos?awski’s book is a poignant feat of biography, not only because he trekked all over the world on Kapu?ci?ski’s trail, but because it reopens dilemmas of integrity and conscience that are still painful for any journalist who tried to report the big world in the late 20th century ... [a] compelling, exhaustive and often upsetting book.”—Neal Ascherson, London Review of Books

“A truly great achievement.”—Agata Pyzik, Guardian

“Artur Domoslawski ... fires off questions like distress flares. He is dedicated in pursuit of evidence, crossing continents to get it, but a reluctant judge.”—Marek Kohn, Independent

“A compelling and controversial biography... Mr Domoslawski was a friend of the great man; but resolved to treat his life as a subject for serious inquiry, setting out with an open mind and detailed knowledge, and adding more insights and evidence along the way. The result is an exemplary explanation of what made Kapuscinski tick.”—Economist

“A great book about a great man.”—Zygmunt Bauman

“[A] reluctant and fascinating exposé.”—Nicholas Shakespeare, Telegraph

“The first real biography [of Kapu?ci?ski] ... reminds us that we reveal ourselves too in our evasions and confabulations and, indeed, that the distortions of reality are an important part of the image of reality.”—Peter Englund, Financial Times

“Exhaustive and focused ... substantial and interesting ... a real contribution to our understanding of Kapu?ci?ski.”—Columbia Journalism Review

“[A] fascinating, gently probing study.”—Irish Times

“Domos?awski ... leading Polish journalist and longtime disciple of Kapu?ci?ski, ultimately strives not to destroy his mentor’s reputation but to present a candid biography in hopes of understanding both Kapu?ci?ski’s enigmatic personality and, on a more abstract level, whether journalism is big or brave enough to include more ‘literary’ approaches.”—Booklist

“This comprehensive biography of the Polish foreign reporter extraordinaire is the most eagerly awaited book of the year.”—The Bookseller

“Domos?awski’s biography seems fascinated by moral gray areas—Kapu?ci?ski neglected his family, had affairs, spied for Poland’s government, and maintained his Party membership until 1981—but always takes a lenient view ... As Kapu?ci?ski once said, ‘I don’t want to stop at observation, I want to take part.’”—The New Yorker

“... A spectacular piece of literary investigation that takes us on an exploration of the meaning of journalism and tells us more about political life and choices in Poland during the communist years—and, in particular, how a leftist could maintain himself as a leftist during that time—than perhaps any book that has appeared to date.”—DISSENT

“A welcome portrait of the writer. The book exposes its subject’s many imperfections, but Mr. Domos?awski wisely does not to get carried away with them.”—Wall Street Journal

“A biography that reads like a novel.”—History Wire

“Domos?awki’s book is a mournful exposé, and ... his revelations are gently rendered.”—Nieman Reports

“[T]he story he tells us is less about this Polish reporter with a zeal for getting into dangerous places than the action he is witnessing. The story is about the people and their times, their daily life, motivations and dreams.”—Cerise Press

“An impeccable biography, one critical but also compassionate. Best of all, he situates his biographical narrative in the larger history that his subject helped to build and then tear down. Amidst ironies aplenty, the biographer remains steadfast in his determination to understand his subject—whatever the consequences.”—New Criterion

“The first definitive biography ... Sympathetic while investigative and critical.”—Bookforum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844679188
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,255,519
  • File size: 771 KB

Meet the Author

Artur Domos awski writes on international politics for the weekly review Polityka and for the Polish edition of Le Monde diplomatique, and for two decades reported for the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. In 2010 he received Poland’s prestigious Journalist of the Year Award. A Knight Fellow at Stanford University in 2005–2006, he is the author of five books and is currently working on a book about contemporary Latin America.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Smile 1

1 Daguerreotypes 5

2 Pinsk: The Beginning 9

3 War 19

4 Legends 1: His Father and Katyn 31

5 Inspired by Poetry, Storming Heaven 35

6 Lapidarium 1: The Poet 43

7 On the Construction Site of Socialism 45

8 Lapidarium 2: Lance Corporal Kapuscinski 53

9 On the Construction Site of Socialism, Continued 55

10 Alicja, Maminek, Zojka 65

11 '56: Revolution All Over Again 73

12 The Third World: A Clash and a Beginning 93

13 In 'Rakowski's Gang' 103

14 Legends 2: Sentenced to Death by Firing Squad 115

15 In 'Rakowski's Gang', Continued 119

16 Life in Africa 129

17 Objects of Fascination: The African Icons 139

18 Life in Africa, Continued 145

19 In the Corridors of Power 159

20 Lapidarium 3: The Reporter as Politician 169

21 On the Trail of Che Guevara 171

22 Legends 3: Che, Lumumba, Allende 179

23 On the Trail of Che Guevara, Continued 185

24 Objects of Fascination: The Latin American Icons 193

25 On the Trial of Che Guevara, Continued Further 197

26 Zojka's Escapes 207

27 A Committed Reporter, a Black-and-White World 213

28 Christ with a Rifle in a Czech Comedy at the Emperor's Court 225

29 On Love and Other Demons 245

30 The Final Revolution, the Final Coup 255

31 Worth More Than a Thousand Grizzled Journofantasists 281

32 Lapidarium 4: Why Did Kapuscinski Have No Critics in Poland? 297

33 The Reporter Amends Reality, Or, Critics of All Nations, Unite! 303

34 Legends 4: Kapuscinski and Kapuscinski 321

35 Our Friend Rysiek 323

36 Where to from Socialism? 333

37 Lapidarium 5: Was Kapuscinski a Thinker? 347

38 Where to from Socialism? Continued 355

39 The File 367

40 Legends 5: The Price of Greatness 389

41 Maestro Kapu 391

42 Unwritten Books 399

43 No Strength to Furnish the Face 411

Notes 425

Index 443

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    Recommend

    I first heard Mr. Kapuscinski interviewed some years ago on NPR-- concerning his then new release "The Soccer Wars". I purchased a copy and was not disappointed. I have been a fan ever since. Naturally, when "A Life" came out, I looked forward to learning more about this incredible writer. I have not been disappointed. Mr. Kapuscinski was a complex man, living under complex circumstances. He surmounted many difficulties to become what I consider to have been one of the most remarkable, and insightful, political writers of our time. "A Life" succeeds in detailing how Mr. Kapuscinski coped with his complex circumstances. "A Life" does, on occasion, seem a bit hard on Mr. Kapuscinski for various small 'liberties' he may have taken in some of his reportage; but, on balance, seems to present a fair overview of this writer's life. Read it and judge for yourself.

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