Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia by Garry Leech

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Independent journalist Garry Leech has spent the last eight years working in the most remote and dangerous regions of Colombia. Unlike other Western reporters, most of whom rarely leave Bogotá, Leech learns the truth about conflicts and the U.S. war on drugs directly from the source: farmers, male and female guerrillas, union organizers, indigenous communities, and many others.
Beyond Bogotá is framed around the eleven hours that Leech was held captive by the FARC, Colombia’s largest leftist guerrilla group, in August 2006. Drawing on unprecedented access to soldiers, guerrillas, paramilitaries, and peasants in conflict zones and cocaine-producing areas, Leech’s documentary memoir is an epic tale of a journalist’s search for meaning in the midst of violence and poverty. This compelling account provides fresh insights into U.S. foreign policy, the role of the media, and the plight of everyday Colombians caught in the middle of a brutal war.

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The Shadow Of The Sun: My African Life by Ryszard Kapuscinski

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Polish writer and foreign correspondent Ryszard Kapuscinski may be in the twilight of a golden career spanning more than 40 years but The Shadow of the Sun, an alternative record of his experiences of Africa and its stupefying white heat, is perhaps his finest hour. This for a writer who, to echo the sentiments of Michael Ignatieff, has turned reportage into literature. Drawn to the Developing World through an impoverished wartime upbringing, Kapuscinski arrived in Ghana in 1957 and was on hand to witness the tumultuous years in which colonial Africa was dismantled, resulting in born-again countries ripe for ransacking by despots. From the glare of Accra airport which greets him on first arrival, to the Tanzanian night of the final pages, he crosses savannah, desert and city by foot, road and train, searching out the two most important, yet inconstant commodities on the continent: shade and water. Threatened by an Egyptian cobra, cursed with cerebral malaria and tuberculosis, plagued by black cockroaches the size of small turtles, Kapuscinski intermingles the immediate and the reflective in 29 satisfyingly fragmented vignettes, encompassing historical narratives and personal experience across a host of countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan and Liberia.

Vietnam Now: A Reporter Returns by David Lamb

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When he left war-ravaged Vietnam some thirty years ago, journalist David Lamb averred “I didn’t care if I ever saw the wretched country again.” But in 1997, he found himself living in Hanoi, in charge of the “Los Angeles Times”‘s first peacetime bureau and in the midst of a country on the move, as it progresses toward a free-market economy and divorces itself from the restrictive, isolationist policies established at the end of the war. This was a new country; in “Vietnam, Now,” David Lamb brings it–and us–forward from its dark, distant past.
From the myriad personalities entwined in the dark, distant history of the war to those focused toward the future, Lamb reveals a rich and culturally diverse people as they share their memories of the country’s past, and their hopes for a peacetime future. A portrait of a beautiful country and a remarkable, determined people, “Vietnam, Now” is a personal journey that will change the way we think of Vietnam, and perhaps the war as well.
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Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

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From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club: a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up. At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime …crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun. For twelve years of eighty-hour workweeks, he covered the seedy side of Japan, where extortion, murder, human trafficking, and corruption are as familiar as ramen noodles and sake. But when his final scoop brought him face to face with Japan’s most infamous yakuza boss – and the threat of death for him and his family – Adelstein decided to step down …momentarily. Then, he fought back. In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein tells the riveting, often humorous tale of his journey from an inexperienced cub reporter – who made rookie mistakes like getting into a martial-arts battle with a senior editor – to a daring, investigative journalist with a price on his head. With its vivid, visceral descriptions of crime in Japan and an exploration of the world of modern-day yakuza that even few Japanese ever see, Tokyo Vice is a deeply thought-provoking book: equal parts cultural expose, true crime, and hard-boiled noir.
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