By Martin Fletcher
Published by Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York.
Price $24.95 (hardcover).
Reviewed by Mike Porter
Breaking News details more than three decades of television coverage of the world’s trouble spots (including Israel). The reader is given a close-up look at war, suffering, death and dying. One tries hard to understand the dichotomy that tears a newsman apart as he looks for the right angle to film suffering: the television shot of a boy dying in the arms of his father, the filming of death from hunger and disease in overcrowded refugee camps, the realisation that the red dress among the tiny corpses of a mass grave of slaughtered African victims will look well on camera.
We see at first-hand how some hundreds of thousands of determined men with weapons shatter and destroy the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe as they kill and destroy in the name of one cause or another.
Fletcher has more than luck going for him, and he needs it as he travels through a minefield, or interviews the psychotic leader of a murderous “army”. A sixth-sense sends him back to Tel Aviv in time to save his family from suffocating in a sealed room. And the amazing account of meetings with Palestinian terrorists who invite him to a “wedding” – code name for killing an informer – makes one marvel at the nerves of a man who is, after all, a Jew. But he is also a dedicated newsman, and the world of news is a different world.
Because he is a professional, the book is written in a way that turns the reader into an eye-witness to what has been happening in the worst places in the world. Fletcher pulls no punches, including revealing his own weaknesses and dilemmas as he faces life-threatening situations and makes moral-shaking decisions. And amazingly, through it all, his sense of humour bubbles out in his writing.
An unforgettable book.
Martin Fletcher is the NBC Bureau Chief, Tel Aviv