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The Paris Correspondent: A Novel of Newspapers, Then and Now Hardcover – October 12, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A stylish, expertly drawn novel about the characters who made journalism what it was, and whose disappearance is making journalism what it is now. " -Kirkus Reviews

"Addictive and illuminating...Alan S. Cowell's breakout novel is not to be missed. Writing from experience, his razor-sharp and darkly funny style will win readers the world over." -Bookreporter.com

"This novel is at once a celebration of the romantic life of the foreign correspondent before the age of the Internet and an elegy for a once-noble profession that has become besieged, mercenary, and driven by the bottom line. Cowell is himself an accomplished journalist, and the novel feels grounded in lived experience." -Library Journal

"This novel is at once a celebration of the romantic life of the foreign news correspondent before the age of the Internet and an elegy for a once-noble profession that has become besieged, mercenary, and driven by the bottom line . . . Cowell finds his rhythm as he progresses and builds to a satisfying and poignant conclusion. — Library Journal

"No one knows the life of a foreign correspondent better than Alan Cowell and no one cooks up the way he does -- sizzling over a hot flame with plenty of spices. He makes the mouth water, the eyes tear and the belly shake with laughter."
--John Darnton, award-winning journalist and author of Black and White and Dead All Over

"Good novels about journalists are rare and ones about website journalism, until now, non-existent. Alan Cowell has changed all that with this sparking story of foreign correspondents living life to the full in that most romantic of cities, Paris." — Phillip Knightley, author of The First Casualty, a history of war co

"Unlike most of the news stories we read these days, The Paris Correspondent provides a satisfying ending, with truth served and the honor of the journalism profession upheld--even if Mr. Cowell pulls an odd switch at the end and makes Joe Shelby address us directly, a jarring change in narrative tone." — New York Journal of Books

"A stylish, expertly drawn novel about the characters who made journalism what it was, and whose disappearance is making journalism what it is now." — Kirkus

"Cowell, a New York Times reporter, does an excellent job of dramatically illustrating the impact of technology on the gathering and dissemination of news...When these characters uncork a yarn about the past, the book snaps to life." — Publishers Weekly

“Alan Cowell tells a riveting story of adventure, courage, love, tragedy and betrayal, set in a world he knows as well as anyone - that of the peripatetic thrill-seeking foreign correspondent. But there's a twist: that world is in peril as newspapers lose ground to the Internet. Cowell catches this moment brilliantly, offering an elegy to the past, a warning about the future and a tribute to old-school journalists caught in the maelstrom.”
--Alan Riding, author of And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied

"Cowell (himself the senior foreign correspondent for The New York Times) ventures into home territory with a wry portrait of old-school newshounds struggling to stay relevant." — The New York TimesSunday Book Review

About the Author

Alan S. Cowell is a journalist. Since 2008 he has been Senior Correspondent for NYTimes.com based in Paris. He is also the author of A Walking Guide and The Terminal Spy: The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (October 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590206711
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590206713
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,781,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan S. Cowell is a journalist. Since 2008 he has been Senior Correspondent for NYTimes.com based in Paris. Cowell began his journalism career as a reporter for British newspapers and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. He joined Reuters in 1972 and The New York Times in 1981. His reporting has covered Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

In 1985, Cowell won the George Polk Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for foreign reporting. He is the author of Killing the Wizards -- Wars of Power and Freedom from Zaire to South Africa; A Walking Guide: A Novel; The Terminal Spy: The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko; and The Paris Correspondent: A Novel.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Keefer TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A librarian, whose opinion I trust, at our latest library BOOKS AND BREAKFAST meeting recommended this novel to us. She said she thinks she likes it better than THE IMPERFECTIONISTS, another great read on international journalism. I agree.

If you enjoy reading about Paris, reporters' lives and the morphing world of 21st century digital journalism with a slathering of dark humor, you should enjoy this novel. The crisp writing snaps, crackles and pops with intelligence and wit. You feel that the author, a New York Times senior correspondent based in Paris (and nominated for the Pulitzer for his writing), is sharing the stories behind the stories dressed provocatively and entertainingly as a novel.

It is worth reading for the character of Joe Shelby alone, the crusty veteran journalist whom you love to hate or hate to love, but love him you do. You read to see what salacious Shelby will do next at THE PARIS STAR, an English-language newspaper in Paris. The narrator of this tale, Ed Clancy, is the perfect colleague and somewhat sensible foil to Shelby who seems to be able to sink to the most despicable behavior a situation offers, and thrive.

How will these two fare in the brave new world of Journalism? If you like a darkly ironic look at this world by an insider, you will be amused by this comedy of manners, or lack thereof, in book form.

This would be an original and humorous selection for a book group.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Slavin on May 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book the same weekend I saw the HBO film "Hemingway and Gellhorn." Frankly, Alan Cowell does a much better job of depicting the war junkies - male and female - who used to cover third world conflicts with style and passion many miles and a bad telephone line away from editors. While good war correspondents still exist - think the much missed Anthony Shadid - the Internet is substituting `blogs' and `tweets' for the great dispatches of old. The not so creative destruction of the journalism profession is Cowell's major theme and he handles it very well. "We were not only building the new tribune of the Internet era; we were hollowing out the ground beneath it," he writes of the web site where his aging heroes labor. Cowell's characters are vivid, his plot suspenseful and the anecdotes - especially the one about an old war correspondent nearly being killed by swans - well worth the price of this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Myers on August 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alan Cowell has crafted a black humor classic about the epic world of war correspondents reporting the truth of hard facts annealed in the heat of modern war. The reporting of hard facts is done inside a larger media world of internet journalism defined by the economics of cheap megabytes floating on a sea of internet lies and celebrity pretension.

The story is about Joe Shelby, a legendary war correspondent from Vietnam on, finishing out his career as an internet rewrite guy in Paris, and his epic love for the fearless combat photographer Faria Duclos. Their story is defined by many shared dangers and many infidelities to a great love that was not a relationship but something else. The narrator is Shelby's less colorful, more sane, editorial sidekick, who becomes part of the larger narrative as whatever truths that need telling get told as a career winds down and important things get said.

Halfway through the novel I read the fascinating account of the life and death of London Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin in February 2012 in Syria in the August 2012 issue of Vanity Fair. Colvin's is the true story of Faria Duclos and Joe Shelby rolled into one talented, yet very broken, true character, a reporter caught in the "addiction to the poison elixir of battle." Her last assignment in Syria was described by her cameraman, "Of all the trips we had done together, this one was complete insanity." What is the motivation here? The article stresses Colvin's deep commitment to reporting the truth.

That also turns out to be the central motivation ascribed to war correspondents in The Paris Correspondent, the central talisman of their nomadic existence. But what is the truth here?
Read more ›
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By now what on May 10, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Combination mystery story, love story, buddy adventure story. And through it all, a love affair with news, journalists and the traditions of journalism.
Well-written (it should be, considering the author's professional history) and consistent. Lots of surprises. Not quite parody, not quite serious: an interesting mix. The style is reminiscent of James Crumley ("One to Count Cadence").

Folllows the well-worn formula of two buddies, one fairly normal, the other very erratic and borderline; light and dark; up-front and devious; thrill-seeker and down-to-earth. Quijote and Sancho, or Faust and Mephistopheles? Characters are fairly well delineated, but tending toward stereotypes. However this does not detract from a good yarn.

Any plot is diluted by and submerged in all the ambiance, personal history, anecdote and commentary; also a bit too much media history at times, a bit too much philosophizing about the evolution (degeneration?) of the media--all of which makes it drag in spots--but all in all a good read and well worth a little patience. Just don't expect a clear-cut structure (beginning, middle, end, well-defined plot points, etc.); the book definitely meanders a bit.
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The Paris Correspondent: A Novel of Newspapers, Then and Now
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