Monday, April 05, 2004

A Fitting Tribute to Journalist Michael Kelly

Robert Vare, Senior Editor @ The Atlantic Monthly has penned a fitting tribute to the late (and truly great) journalist Michael Kelly, who died nearly one year ago in Iraq, where he was embedded with US troops during the second war on the Baathist regime. The essay will be published as the forward to Kelly's final book of writings Michael Kelly: True to his Words .

Kelly's attention to detail, and his ablility to focus on the human detail within the the chaos of war (of both the literal and political variety), was what made reading his work so powerful and affecting. In Vare's essay I was shocked to learn the Kelly was one of the few reporter's who covered the conflict from the inside; Kelly, unlike the more well-known CNN anchor Bernard Shaw and special correspondent (and egomaniacal asshat) Peter Arnett, was in Iraq because it was where the real human story was to be found, not because it represented his chance to make journalism's A-List. From Vare:

"Out of these Gulf War dispatches, revised and expanded, would come a much heralded gem of a book: Martyrs' Day: Chronicle of a Small War (1993). All this was a feat made even more impressive by the fact that Mike had never before written anything remotely like these dispatches, with their full sensory reports of the sights and sounds and smells of war."

"I don't know what it was, but my reporting faculties had never been engaged like that," Mike told me years later. "I was just seeing everything—even the tiniest thing—large and in Technicolor. I think it was partly the fear, partly the sheer excitement of being there and bearing witness, and partly my growing anger at what Saddam Hussein had done."

Kelly's final anthology of dispatches will be available this spring from Amazon :
Things Worth Fighting for: Collected Writings

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