Now in his 70s, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Schanberg looks back on a long career as a war correspondent for the New York Times and offers an anthology of war coverage and commentary, from Vietnam and Cambodia to the war in Iraq, aimed at showing the brutality and senselessness of war. From his reporter’s notebook entries, he describes watching small children die and thinking of his own children back in the U.S., the hasty evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Cambodia in 1975, the surreal calm before the Khmer Rouge moved into Phnom Penh. He includes his tribute to Dith Pran, the Cambodian so instrumental in the Times’ coverage that he was named a correspondent. Schanberg recalls their relationship as colleagues and friends and his profound sadness that while Pran saved his life, he was unable to save Pran’s in return. The final pieces are critiques of the U.S. failure to push Hanoi to return POWs and the cover-up of that failure, including Senator John McCain’s participation, despite his time as a POW. Schanberg’s collection is grim reminder of the brutality of war. --Vanessa Bush
“There is a biblical quality to this story. What you have in this book is a tremendous, bone-chilling piece of eyewitness war correspondence. What makes it truly extraordinary, however—what makes it a transcendent and classic piece of war literature—is the story of the survival of Dith Pran and the deepening affection between two men from different worlds. Caught up in a war in which the vile and inhuman have become commonplace, two men are reborn by discovering the depths of their own humanity. In the end, they have won a personal victory over war itself.”
“I recommend reading this remarkable book all at once, as I did. You’ll learn things. You’ll be fascinated and moved. It puts the reader where the reporter was and leaves you with an indelible picture of war as it is. The past—and the myriad, uncounted noncombatant victims of three wars—are brought back to life. Sydney Schanberg’s writing matches the intensity of the stories he has to tell and makes you feel the hurt. ‘This is what it’s like. Look,’ it says. ‘Don’t look away.’ It’s hard, necessary information.”
“Sydney Schanberg is one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century. His passion for Cambodia is outweighed only by his passion for the truth and for his dear friend and colleague Dith Pran. This book is a chilling historical document that lyrically captures some of the darkest periods in American—and human—history. It is both great journalism and great art."
“A priceless collection of the war journalism of Syd Schanberg. Based in Southeast Asia, he was one of a tiny handful of reporters who remained behind to see the Khmer Rouge take over Phnom Penh and begin the Cambodian genocide. More recently, Schanberg's was among the few voices calling to account two U.S. senators, John McCain and John Kerry, both Vietnam veterans, for manipulating the findings of a special Senate committee to cover up the truth: that the Nixon White House, directed by President Nixon and his war planner, Henry Kissinger, left hundreds of living American POWs behind in the hands of their captors when we evacuated Vietnam. Schanberg's war writings offer lessons of great value in our conduct of today’s wars without end. They remind us at once of bygone standards of journalistic excellence and the depths to which humanity can descend in times of war.”