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

Mark Bowden "America must answer last week's barbarity in Fallujah"

The Lesson of Mogadishu (Wall Street Journal - Opinion Journal)

Mark Bowden, best known as the author of the book "Black Hawk Down" has written yet another compelling op-ed piece in today's Wall Street Journal's Opinon Journal. Besides the obvious comparisons to Mogadishu, Somalia, last week's attack on four civilian contractors in the Baathist stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq presents an opportunity to 'get it right':

"Which means recognizing that the gory carnival on the streets of Fallujah is not evidence of the mission's futility, nor is it something to chalk up to foreign barbarity. It was deliberate and it must be answered deliberately. The lynching of African-Americans would have ended decades earlier if authorities had rounded up and punished those participating in crimes like the one in Marion. Somalia would be a vastly different place today if the U.S. and U.N. had not backed away in horror from the shocking display in Mogadishu."

Read it all - Bowden's essay's are always a highlight of The Atlantic Monthly, where he serves as the magazine's National Editor. His biography can be found here.