Sunday, 20 January 2008

Small Wars Permitting by Christina Lamb


FOREIGN correspondent Christina Lamb starts her book with an account of Benazir Bhutto's wedding 20 years ago, and ends it - two months before the assassination - with last October's suicide bombing of Bhutto's campaign bus.

In between are crazy moments with Afghani Mujahadeen, mercenaries searching for Osama Bin Laden or street children in Rio de Janeiro, or scarily under arrest in Pakistan - and all the time Lamb is wondering why she isn't at home with her little boy.

Foreign correspondents are legendarily male, twitchy, adrenaline-addicted and liable to early death. Lamb doesn't change the stereotype, except, perhaps, in getting her nails professionally manicured before going into a conflict zone.

One of the more uninflected pieces is about a landmine-busting trip to Angola with Princess Diana - whose charisma Lamb compares to Nelson Mandela's. It's one of the few articles in her book where someone's doing something decent, rather than trying to maim or kill other people.

This isn't literature - it's the daily churn of a working journalist - but if you want an outline guide to this decade's wars, you could do worse than read Small Wars Permitting.

No comments: