Quote o’ the Day (Robert Capa War Correspondent Edition)

From the Weekend Wall Street Journal’s Review section:

“For a war correspondent to miss an invasion is like refusing a date with Lana Turner.”

– Robert Capa

Sadly, Lana Turner is dead. H.D.S. Greenway, on the other hand, is very much alive, as is his memoir Foreign Correspondent, reviewed in the Journal by Roger Lowenstein right below Capa’s quote.

When the Going Was Good

When H.D.S. Greenway was hired at Time magazine in 1962, Henry Luce told him to always travel first class. These are words that no reporter is likely to hear again, ever. Mr. Greenway’s memoir, “Foreign Correspondent,” depicts a vanished world. For roughly a half century he covered, variously, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, the Middle East, Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 1.15.19 AMAfghanistan. He saw appalling misery and suffering. He was shot at, shot down, concussed by a bomb. It didn’t seem so then but it was a less hurried, even a more civilized, age—in particular for correspondents. In whatever capital, they crowded the telegraph office to file their stories at the end of the day, then gravitated to a choice restaurant. In Saigon, Greenway lodged in a comfortable room in a French colonial hotel overlooking the opera house. “You could sip your drink and watch the occasional flashes of gunfire in the distance across the river while a little dance band played fox-trots from the fifties.”

Gotta-be-nuts graf:

Mr. 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. Amid the chaos, he left with a bundle of clothes and his Olympia typewriter. About to board a chopper out, he was told, “Only one bag.” And then, another great sentence—”Without hesitation I threw away my clothes.”

Along with that piece are Martin Rubin’s review of Margaret Asquith’s Great War Diary, 1914-1916 and Stephen Brumwell’s review of Behind the Front by Craig Gibson.

As those books attest, war correspondents are both special and irreplaceable. Not to mention irrepressible.

See: Robert Capa.

See also: James Foley.

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3 Responses to Quote o’ the Day (Robert Capa War Correspondent Edition)

  1. Give me a typewriter and a fifth of gin and I could save the world.

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