Home > Reviews > “Laugh, cry and learn” – Jonathan Randal

“Laugh, cry and learn” – Jonathan Randal

In the early 1980s, Jon Randal‘s book on the Lebanon war was passed around young correspondents and aid workers like a sacred text. It is one of the first accounts of the misadventures of the Middle East to give a fair voice to all sides and satisfactorily explain what really goes on. In later years I was lucky to join forces with Randal on many assignments, and learned first hand from him the critical importance of old-fashioned reporting. Even though nearly 20 years older than me, he never tired, once forcing me to drive all night with him along the broken roads of northern Iraq to stand up a story of an incipient Kurdish civil war — a event that that only he was prescient and hard-working enough to see coming. This is his endorsement of Dining with al-Qaeda:

“This rich personal history of a senior foreign correspondent is a must read by one of the very few real Middle East specialists, a man who speaks the languages, knows the history, and understands the people. Paradoxically, it stands as a monument to what the so-called golden age of newspaper reporting should have been but rarely was, and which is now vanishing anyway under the combined battering of distracted readers, instant communications and shrinking advertising. Read Hugh Pope and laugh, cry and learn about the deeper Middle East beyond the twitchings of twitter.”

Jonathan Randal, former Washington Post foreign correspondent and author of Osama: the Making of a Terrorist; After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness? My Encounters with Kurdistan; and Going all the Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers and the War in Lebanon.

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