History needn’t always be known through fat books. They can be told in a much more compelling way through articles, especially if they’re written by well-known names like Ernest Hemingway, William L. Laurence, Winston Churchill etc. This book edited by Jon E. Lewis brings you some of the best written works in journalism through its 150 year history. Some of the articles might even be news to you, and some would give you a different perspective to an already known event.
The stories are enjoyable and light; it’s almost as if you’re reading short stories. They’re not your usual newspaper articles because they lend a voice and character to the story. It engages you in its story and it moves you. These articles are not just plain facts and seldom take the inverted pyramid route either. And because these are like short stories, you can pick and start with any story from the book. At the back, it does have a few suggestions like Elliot V. Bell’s account of the Wall Street Crash, William L. Laurence’s Pulitzer winning account of the Nagasaki bombing, Merriman Smith’s work on the assassination of President Kennedy. Apart from the list given at the back, don’t miss out on reading Charles Dickens’ “A Man is Guillotined in Rome” and “A Sleep to Startle Us”. And not to forget Mark Twain’s “The American Assault on the Pyramids” as well as Winston Churchill’s “Escape”. The article by Churchill is his account of escaping from the Boers. John F. Burn’s “An Afghan Village, Destroyed” is a beautiful read that lets you in on the Taliban insurrection in Afghanistan.
Although the book majorly has stories on war, it makes for a great read. It also has stories on politics, sports, disaster, civil rights, corruption and culture among others. And no doubt the book will engage you because the stories here are true masterpieces that have been beautifully crafted.
If you’re looking to pick up a book that lets you in on a bit of history and journalism together without making it boring, you should give this one a shot. And because they are a collection of articles, you can choose which ones you want to read depending on your mood and time. I would suggest starting with the ones mentioned in this review to get into the groove of reading the book.