Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions: Travels with an NPR Correspondent

Overview

In this candid, intimate account, an award-winning 20-year veteran NPR correspondent takes readers behind the scenes of the major events of our time, letting us see what it's really like gathering the news on the front lines

As a radio journalist whose work appears regularly on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, John F. Burnett has reported from the Branch Davidian standoff and the Kosovo conflict. He has covered the drug wars in Central America; been embedded in a ...

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Overview

In this candid, intimate account, an award-winning 20-year veteran NPR correspondent takes readers behind the scenes of the major events of our time, letting us see what it's really like gathering the news on the front lines

As a radio journalist whose work appears regularly on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, John F. Burnett has reported from the Branch Davidian standoff and the Kosovo conflict. He has covered the drug wars in Central America; been embedded in a Marine Division in Iraq; and weathered Hurricane Katrina, breaking news hourly on the conditions in New Orleans. And he was one of NPR's lead reporters on 9/11 and its aftermath.

But no matter how much time Burnett has on the air to report his stories—and how expertly he has done so—there are always valuable details that aren't mentioned. Now he fills in those rich tidbits, letting us witness the parts of the stories that remained off the air.

In Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions, Burnett exposes the hilarious moments, bizarre encounters, dangerous highways, insufferable colleagues, and unsung heroes he's known through his adventures as an NPR reporter. The result is a revealing and personal account that will fascinate not only NPR listeners but also anyone interested in the state of our world today and how the media covers it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This absorbing review of newsworthy events and intriguing people by an award-winning reporter is also a subtle manual about journalism. Even as Burnett looks back at his nearly 30 years as a newsman, the essays remain immediate. In "Katrina: The Big One," not only does he detail how "the bizarre becomes normal," he explains how satellite phones work. When embedded with the First Marine Division Band in Iraq, he conveys the disorientation of a sandstorm as well as the difficulties faced by reporters in handling misinformation, bad news and "the lubricant of war fighting" profanity. Turning to Waco, Tex., Burnett assesses contrary depictions of David Koresh's and the FBI's actions and considers the implications of the journalists' adoption of the terms "cult" and "compound." In Guatemala, he suffers the disquieting sense of "imperiling everyone we interviewed" and the frustration of being "an eyewitness to history [while unable to] get through to my editor." In reporting from Kosovo, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Burnett places his translators and fixers in the foreground: "People don't realize how much of what they learn about foreign news involves this invisible but indispensable link in news gathering." Radio depends on words, not pictures, and Burnett, an NPR regular for 20 years, brings that auditory clarity, imagination and freshness to all he touches. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594863042
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/5/2006
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN F. BURNETT has been in the midst of the biggest news stories of our age and 2005 marked his 20th year reporting for National Public Radio. He is a recipient of a 2004 Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and a 2003 National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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