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Foreign Correspondent: A Memoir Hardcover – August 19, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As a foreign correspondent for several newspapers, Greenway was an eyewitness to some of the most significant international events of the past five decades, from the fall of Saigon to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans to the horrors of both Gulf Wars. With an astute sense of the broader history behind conflicts, Greenway explores the harrowing process of shaking off colonial European powers and fighting for freedom and independence. He recalls covering demonstrations in Cairo, the March on Washington in 1963, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, drawing parallels between the ways the desire for freedom and justice play out around the globe. He recounts his own steep learning curve and the allure of war reporting to romantics and cynics alike. Greenway chronicles not only the wars but also the enormous changes in journalism in the last 50 years, noting the gentility of the early press versus later informality, changes in writing style and even how copy was delivered as technology advanced, and changes in geopolitical perspectives. This is a fascinating look at one man’s career and 50 years of war, violence, and adventure. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“An excellent primer to America's history . . . it's also guaranteed to whet any budding, young journalist's desire to cover war in far-flung places.” (Associated Press)

“Passages such as that one—and there are indeed others—are what elevate ‘Foreign Correspondent’ well above the run of the journalistic mill. It’s easy for journalism to turn one into a cynic, but Greenway seems not to have succumbed.” (Jonathan Yardley the Washington Post)

“Greenway’s firsthand experiences add gravitas to his common-sense take on foreign policy. The real strengths of the book, however, are the vivid descriptions of life during wartime.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Greenway tells his story with freshness and color, and becoming touches of humility.” (Columbia Journalism Review)

“With an astute sense of the broader history behind conflicts, Greenway explores the harrowing process of shaking off colonial European powers and fighting for freedom and independence. … [A] fascinating look at one man’s career and 50 years of war, violence, and adventure.” (Booklist)

“Greenway provides fascinating detail on the day-to-day travails of the foreign correspondent… Frank, seasoned, expert observations on the folly of U.S. military intervention.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“[Greenway] doesn’t just tell war stories (of which he has a million), but he observes the world and analyzes the way it has changed, and continues to change. All of this is delivered in the steady, clear prose of a veteran writer for the Boston Globe and Washington Post. It’s a book to make you fall in love with newspapers all over again.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

“…should be read by journalism students everywhere….Greenway gives a sense of reporting in an era when journalists were truly ‘correspondents,’ sending dispatches to bridge a gap in distance and time. He attentively distinguishes the various cultures of Southeast Asia—Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and, of course, Vietnam. He stayed there until the final day.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“Now we have a memoir that takes the title of Hitchcock’s film and provides a thought-provoking counterpoint to it...Greenway’s memoir is liberally peppered with happy recollections of comradery with fellow correspondents, to whom he throws many bouquets. If these enliven the story, the book’s chief virtue lies in being a succinct primer on post-World War II American foreign policy.” (Boston Globe)

“Greenway has taken a second crack at a ‘first draft of history’ and given us a riveting, smart memoir filled with anecdotes and observations that come from years of reflection. He lets us in on the great secret of a war correspondent. A story is always more devious and complicated than the one written on deadline. Greenway now gives us the real scoop with humor and intelligence; a perspective that comes from mining his dog-eared reporter’s notebooks, some still flecked with dried blood and sweat. He has found remarkable stories. In the White House on the day of the Kennedy assassination, on the last flight out of Vietnam from the roof of the US embassy, Greenway was an eye-witness to momentous events. Fast-forward to Kabul and Baghdad where he observed the chaos of capitals collapsing into civil war. Greenway expands on the skills of a gifted war correspondent to write his personal account of remarkable history.” (Deborah Amos, author of Eclipse of the Sunnis)

“This is more than a memoir . . . it is a sophisticated modern history, with all of our foreign policy ignorance and misunderstanding etched in printer's ink. Greenway, whose reportage and later columns were always essential for people in my business, reminds us of what we are missing in these days of dwindling American interest in foreign affairs and dwindling coverage. How many Americans even know where foreign is? The guy always had information, guts . . . and style . . . and now he has produced an essential running commentary of our time.” (Seymour Hersh, author of The Dark Side of Camelot)

“Greenway stands out among veteran correspondents for the range of his experience and his gifts as a raconteur. He is a splendid companion. Foreign Correspondent is packed with adventures and close calls. It is also an inquiry into why American power so often goes awry.” (Joseph Lelyveld, author of Great Soul)

“The central story of our time, David Greenway writes, is of ‘America stepping into other people's empires.’ Greenway spent a half-century covering that story with insight, panache, and no small amount of courage. In this vividly written memoir, ranging from Southeast Asia to the Middle East, he recounts his adventures and misadventures, while deftly portraying the cast of colorful characters—above all his fellow foreign correspondents—encountered along the way. The result is a riveting book.” (Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations, Boston University)

“Greenway is one of America’s greatest reporters. Covering the wars in Vietnam, the Middle East, and the Balkans with courage and honesty, he set the standard which many others seek to meet. It is a gift that he has now written his long overdue memoir. Gripping, lucid, thoughtful, it will be a classic. It should encourage another generation to follow his lead—to go out and discover and tell the truth about difficult decisions in distant, dangerous places and honor the profession of journalism.” (William Shawcross, author of Sideshow and Justice and the Enemy)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 19, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476761329
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476761329
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #656,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reviewer TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Foreign Correspondent: A Memoir by H.D.S. Greenway is an incredible account of a war correspondent who was a journalist's journalist in every sense of the word. Delightful, witty and perceptive, the book captures the life and times of H.D.S. Greenway who spent over fifty eventful years of great adventure in the most dangerous spots across the globe. He was there in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Papua New Guinea, Eastern Europe and the burning Balkans.

Born in 1935, into a world very different from today, Greenway is a living encyclopedia of American interventions in various hotspots all over the world. He has the knack for being at the center of action like the time he was in the White House when President Kennedy was assassinated. But I have one big grouse about the memoir: it is just a little over 300 pages in length, and too short a memoir to cover an action-packed career that spans over fifty years.

His perception and reflections of the events that he personally witnessed and reported about is a real eye-opener. I am deeply impressed with his writing and his ability to recollect them in such a riveting manner. The way Greenway talked about the nature of his work and what it entails is quite interesting. It is an enjoyable memoir, worth reading and deeply insightful.

#Received uncorrected proof advance reading copy for honest review.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Traxel on September 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It was during the time of Theodore Roosevelt and the great reporter Richard Harding Davis that journalism began to be called the “first draft of history.” American correspondents like Davis, Frederic Palmer, Scott Mowrer and later Vincent Sheean eagerly traveled the world risking life and limb, writing intense personal stories about what they had witnessed, educating Americans to the international dangers their country faced during the height of Western imperialism.
David Greenway is very much in this admirable tradition. Drawn to journalism after serving in the Navy and studying at Yale and Oxford, he first went to Indochina in the mid-60s, reporting from Laos, Cambodia, and especially Vietnam. Given the dangers he survived, fellow correspondents regarded him as blessed with special luck. Michael Herr, author of one of the best books on the Vietnam war, told Greenway that he couldn’t picture him dead in the rain. But, though luck played a role, it is also obvious that here is a man who has his act together. See, for example, the rules he devised for traveling in Cambodia during the advance of the murderous Khmer Rouge: one must look for oncoming traffic, curious children and hold friendly chats with farmers working the fields. “I am convinced that these simple precautions saved my life,” he writes. More than thirty journalists were killed or disappeared in Cambodia during this time, including his good friends Sean Flynn and Dana Stone. “If you were caught by the Khmer Rouge you could count on being pulled out of your car and either shot…or clubbed to death to save ammunition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By michael d. mosettig on October 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
David Greenway gives journalistic professionals and those who follow the news some well told and rare insights into the world of journalism and especially that special world of foreign correspondence. I was particularly struck by his observation that the correspondents in Vietnam developed an emotional attachment to that country, something that certainly did not happen to those who followed in Iraq. One can only hope this book is not some kind of obituary, in a journalistic world turned upside down by technology and economic forces, for the kind of foreign correspondence that has served millions of Amiercan readers so well in the decades since World War II. A treat of a book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anne on October 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Gave insights into the world of the foreignr correspondent in the days before they were "embedded" - wild, fascinating, terrifying - told in an understated way that grips the reader and transports to an environment way beyond the normal comfort zone.
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Greenway's personal trip through his history as a leading foreign correspondent for most serious major US publications is enhanced by his penetrating and highly thoughtful observations on cause and effect. These authoritative observations are illustrated by his prolific but understated use of "I was there and miraculously survived" the front lines of Southeast and Southwest Asian, the Balkans, and MidEast violence. His vignettes ranged from the whimsical history of the origin of Russia's current national flag through his many interviews with historically important movers and shakers, to his many opportunities to have been killed in his line of work.

Embedded in this remarkably readable and all too short a memoir is an interesting soliloquy on the historical - and perhaps genetic - human practice of circling the tribal wagons and shooting at, or otherwise oppressing, the "other" when times are particularly tough. The unstated but logical implication is that there would be less killing and fewer wars if mankind could learn to govern itself in ways that produced greater general prosperity and fewer "unfair" inequalities. The prospects for such a sea change don't look very hopeful, as Mr. Picketty has recently documented.

Greenway's memoir is a "must read" for all serious students of American Foreign policy in the hope that perhaps, just perhaps, the future leadership of this country can avoid repeating past mistakes.
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