If I had to categorize war journalists, at least in my experience with them, it would be flawed in all the right ways. Flawed in the ways that allow for someone to do this kind of work year after year, decade after decade. And after reading “In Extremis: The Life and Death of War Correspondent Marie Colvin,” I feel even more justified in my opinion. Most of these folks have issues. The difference between them and us is that their flaws serve a different purpose. That purpose takes them to Hell.
This book is fascinating as it details the year by year, job by job, assignment by assignment trajectory of Marie Colvin who was one of the most famous war journalists of the modern era. She, like many others, was flawed in a variety of ways. There was alcohol, insecurity, competitiveness and a penchant for not showing up where she was supposed to. It would be easy to fault someone for these flaws but instead, think of it this way. She had all these flaws and STILL managed to do what she did. That tells you the kind of drive, persistence and tenacity she had. Not to mention being a woman in a profession dominated by alpha males.
She lost an eye in Sri Lanka and was eventually killed, purposely targeted, while covering the brutal war on civilians in Syria. Lindsay Hilsum does a brilliant job sourcing Colvin’s journals, hundreds of them, as she stitches together a personal story about someone who always went all in to tell the world what was actually happening. As her friends and colleagues died around her, Colvin–to her own detriment–kept going. That level of commitment isn’t common. Get it, read it.