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The Age of the Warrior: Selected Essays by Robert Fisk Hardcover – July 29, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Fisk’s passionate coverage of the Middle East for London’s Independent has earned him a global following; unhesitant to blame the powerful for the region’s many injustices, his columns have also drawn intense flak (and, in the blogosphere, caused his last name to be used as a verb). This selection collects about 115 of Fisk’s weekly columns, most penned since 9/11. Many, if not all, of these columns are archived and available for free online, but when bound together in a book and organized by theme and not chronology, they provide unique insight into Fisk himself as well as the historic tumult that is his beat. Each column is, of course, imbued with Fisk’s characteristic urgency; many, especially those dealing with the war in Iraq, seethe with exasperation. There are some delightfully barbed movie reviews. But this gathering’s most compelling moments may be when Fisk steps back to grapple wistfully with the cumulative effects of being a 30-year witness to unrelenting violence. And a few moments, in which he aches for the loss of close friends, are downright haunting. --Brendan Driscoll


'What Fisk writes, in his often brilliant, highly authoritative prose is a wake-up call. Read 'God damn that democracy' and 'Gold-plated taps' back to back and you have, in a nutshell, the brutal truth of the Middle East problem succinctly expressed, together with proof that Fisk at his best is a hard act to match.' Scotsman 'Brilliant. Fisk at full throttle. 500 pages of his truthful scorn left me wanting more. O brave old world, that has such journos in it.' Independent 'Can work brilliantly: a piece on a racist headline superbly captures the hypocrisies in Western attitudes towards the war on terror. Infuriating and inspirational in equal measure.' Metro Praise for 'The Great War for Civilisation': 'Brilliant...this powerfully-written book is filled with accounts of horror, pain and injustice. His triumph is that he has turned a slightly dubious and over-romanticised craft into a honorable vocation.' Independent 'His forte is straight reporting, such as his three interviews with Osama bin Laden. At least as good are his meetings with Saddam Hussein, Khomeini and Sadeq Khalkhali, the hanging judge of the Iranian revolution, and his close-ups of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the launch of Saddam's war against Iran, an ambush by Islamists of an Algerian police patrol, and a lift into trouble in an Apache attack helicopter on the Iraq/Turkey border.' Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 1st edition (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584032
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584034
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,686,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This book is a selection from Robert Fisk's Saturday columns in the Independent from 1998 to 2007. These writings cover films and novels, the World Wars, the first British war of occupation of Iraq, the wars in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan, the Turkish genocide of Armenians, and many other themes.

He sums up this period as the age of the warrior, describing how Bush changed the US Army's official `Soldier's Creed' to "I am a warrior" whose sole mission is `to destroy the enemies of the United States of America'. An American veteran wrote that the new creed "allows no end to any conflict except total destruction of the `enemy'. It ... does not allow one ever to stop fighting (lending itself to the idea of `the long war'). It says nothing about following orders, it says nothing about obeying laws or showing restraint. It says nothing about dishonourable actions ..." Change the word American in the creed to Muslim and it could be bin Laden's creed.

The American veteran wrote that this new creed encouraged the committing of atrocities. For example, the CIA had videos of prisoners being waterboarded, recently admitting that it had destroyed them. Americans in authority believe, wrongly, that `Torture works', as one Special Forces major put it.

Fisk notes how politicians impose policies against our national interest and against all morality, and how they use power to terrorise us. But our consent is not unthinking or automatic; the thought is that `authority is trustworthy', despite the evidence. He noted that some of his fellow journalists refuse to see cruelty and use the notion of `balance' to avoid the truth. He also notes the growing efforts to censor criticism, whether of Israel or of Islam.
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Format: Hardcover
It's unfortunate that the people who really should read this book won't. The truth,as seen through the eyes of an eyewitness,is what too often is missing from the news we read or see or hear. As painful as it is, the stories of everyday people must be told. Mr. Fisk is a master at separating fact from fiction. This book is a chronicle of history in our time and exposes those who have turned their backs on our world. As a species, we can't continue to be led by our self-inflicted ignorance and continue to repeat the mistakes of the past. This book is an excellent means to achieving awareness of the world we live on.
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Format: Hardcover
How does one review a book by a man who has spent the past three decades reporting on the world's bloodiest conflicts, who has interviewed Osama bin Laden and who, by Air France calculations, travels more frequently than any Air France crew member? Robert Fisk's journalistic resume is impressive, from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to Israel's own invasion of Lebanon, Iran after the overthrow of the Shah to the US-led invasion of Iraq, as well as the killing fields of Algeria, Syria, the Occupied Territories and other trouble spots in the Arab world.

The sum total of his death-defying forays into the Middle East is contained in his excellent Pity the Nation, which covers the Lebanese civil war, and The Great War for Civilization, a monumental, 1,300-plus page catalogue of man's inhumanity to man which, Fisk tells us, will eventually be followed by a second volume.

The Age of the Warrior departs from the blood-soaked pages of his previous books and offers more personal insights into Fisk the man. In it we find the ponderings, through a decade or so of editorials he wrote for the Independent, of a man who probably has seen more dead bodies than any reporter alive today. The 116 entries can be read as hiatuses, "a foreign correspondent's thoughts amid war, a corner of the journalist's brain that usually goes unrecorded," recorded here for our benefit.

Some entries, such as "The forgotten art of handwriting" or "The cat who ate missile wire for breakfast" -- a true story, by the way -- are light in tone, but underlying the whole volume is the same anger we have come to expect from Fisk in the face of injustice, double standards and Western complicity in the suffering that finds such fertile ground throughout the Middle East.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not actually a review of this book, which contains mostly selections of Fisk's work from the last few years, but rather of The World of Robert Fisk, a two-volume collection of samples of Fisk's reporting covering the 20-year period 1989-2008, which appeared recently as a supplement to The Independent. However, I think my observations should be relevant and possibly useful to people interested in this book.

I would give Fisk three stars on the basis of the intrinsic merits of his writing, but have added a fourth star due to its importance. The quality of Fisk's writing seems to have deteriorated over time, becoming more and more emotional, polemical and reliant on epithet, especially since the events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. While I can well understand his anger, I think a professional writer shouldn't need to be told how important it is for the quality of his writing to keep a cool head while working.

Fisk's reporting on issues such as the consequences of the use of depleted uranium in armaments deployed in wars in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia is undoubtedly very important. Given the extreme pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian bias of the US media, it is also very important for people like Fisk to balance our picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of Fisk's work from the 1990s is of particularly high quality. I was particularly impressed by a brilliant piece, dated 19 June, 1994, on the forces that tore apart Yugoslavia, and another, dated 12 October, 1995, on the suffering of women working as domestics in the Gulf States.

However, Fisk's increasing tendency to let his emotions take over sometimes leads to writing that I find downright unintelligent.
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