I’d never heard of the idea of “reportage” before, and I’m still none the wiser as to who or what “Granta” is. But with an interest in journalism, and a photo of the awe-inspiring “Tank Man” on the cover, it was a fairly easy sell.
The book contains a wonderful collection of journalist’s stories, rather than the reports that would find their way into a newspaper. Most of the reportage (which I like to think is pronounced as the French would – rhyming with montage, not cambridge) is regarding conflicts, and the stories of being a reporter trying to get close to the action – but not too close. One stand-out piece for me is the investigative journalism behind Operation Flavius, an IRA bomb plot foiled by the SAS controversially shooting the suspects. Compared with reading (not-so-)broad-sheet newspapers, I normally prefer to cut the waffle and read the Economist for getting the facts on what’s going on. However, I would love to have a source of journalism like this book – almost by necessity it would be non-timely, but nevertheless fascintating, almost behind-the-scenes reading, where the subject merely provides the context for the experiences of the journalist.