A venerable war journalist

by
April 1994, no. 159

Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the World's War Zone by Peter Arnett

Bloomsbury, $39.95 pb

A venerable war journalist

by
April 1994, no. 159

The celebrated journalist Peter Arnett’s new autobiography Live from the Battlefield partly solves one mystery for me. For the last eighteen months, whenever I discussed Arnett and his forthcoming memoirs with my husband (who was trying to research Arnett’s relationship with news network CNN after the Gulf War), I found myself constantly and inexplicably analysing Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and the characterisation of the ambitious, fragile Becky Sharp.

Now, reading Arnett, I learn that on the ninth day of the Gulf War, when he was visiting the bombed town of Al Dour in Iraq, he found in the wreckage of a home a torn paperback edition of Vanity Fair. It belonged to Raeda Abdul Aziz, a University of Baghdad student who was killed in the raid and who had written on a separate piece of paper, ‘Rebecca Sharp was not a kind, forgiving person. She said all the world treated her badly. But the world treats people as they deserve to be treated. The world is a mirror ...’ Arnett adds, problematically, ‘I took the battered novel back with me as a souvenir, but I did not plan to mention it in my broadcast. I knew I would take a great deal of heat by reporting a controversial bombing of Iraqi civilians in the existing climate of disapproval.’ Such moral withholding is minor here, of course: his objectivity in the Gulf War was usually luminous and impeccable.

Jennifer Maiden reviews 'Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the World's War Zone' by Peter Arnett

Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the World's War Zone

by Peter Arnett

Bloomsbury, $39.95 pb

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