cover image REPORTING AMERICA AT WAR: An Oral History


, . . Hyperion, $25.95 (241pp) ISBN 978-1-4013-0072-2

Beginning with Edward R. Murrow's live reports during the London blitz and ending with an epilogue on the second war in Iraq, this oral history contains transcripts of interviews with 11 top correspondents. Murrow is one of three deceased reporters included (the others are Martha Gellhorn and Homer Bigart), along with Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, Frank Gibney, Malcolm Browne, David Halberstam, Morley Safer, Ward Just, Gloria Emerson, Chris Hedges and Christiane Amanpour. Compared with correspondents who covered WWII and Korea, today's journalists tend to have more campaign ribbons. The New York Times's Hedges, for example, has covered Central America, the Middle East and the Balkans; Amanpour has reported for CNN from the Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia, Somalia and Afghanistan. The correspondents who were in Vietnam—including Homer Bigart and Gloria Emerson—opine on the official disinformation campaign and the corruption of the Saigon regime, while Amanpour, who covered a different kind of war in Somalia, speaks of the impact of the repeated showing of footage of an American soldier's body being dragged through Mogadishu, which she says caused the Clinton administration to curtail the U.S.'s mission there. Tobin's introductions and transitional and informational interpolations within the transcripts hold this informative volume together. Just sums up the book's importance: "As long as there are wars, it is very important to know, in the details, how they are being fought [and] to know the manner in which people are dying.... If someone isn't there to report it, it's just a tree crashing in the forest with nobody to hear it." Photos. (Oct. 8)

Forecast: The book, a tie-in to a PBS documentary series airing in November, should receive some attention, thanks to a radio interview campaign and print ads.