WAR REPORTER: Marie Colvin covered all the main conflicts of our time, always with the same aim: not only to bear witness, but to bring action.

Francesca Borri
Italian journalist and writer. She contributes regularly to Modern Times Review.
Published date: March 17, 2019

In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin

Lindsey Hilsum

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

United States

Her choice had been journalism, not the front lines. She found herself in war quite by chance, and like all war reporters, she did not like such a label: «I write about humanity in extremis», she explained. «Nothing else.» However, as the American writer and war correspondent Michael Herr, once said: it’s an old story. You cover a war and, in the end, it is the war that covers you. The true war is not the one before you, but the one taking place inside of you.With her irregular life, countless lovers – one more hurtful than the next – all night parties, alcohol, famously sharp answers, and above all, that black patch on her left eye, Marie Colvin, the star reporter of the Sunday Times until her death in Homs, Syria, on February 22, 2012, was doomed to be turned into the main character of a book.

From Libya and onwards, it’s not fortuity anymore: it’s talent and courage

She would have probably despised a lot of what has been written and said about her over the last years: the portrayal of a traumatised, adrenaline-junkie reporter who, in her men and successes, was still looking for her father, who died from a sudden cancer. But not this book. It does not omit anything, nor deny all her vulnerability. It says the only thing that makes sense to say: «She knew where the story was, and wouldn’t stop at nothing to get it». Marie Colvin knew where she had to be. She wanted to be there, but she also knew how to be there – and with what mind-set.At Yale, she studied with John Hersey, the author of Hiroshima (1946). From him she learned, rather than being a matter of balance, journalism is a matter of truth. Her career started basically with a lucky shot: an interview with Colonel Qaddafi. At that time in 1986, he was a very controversial figure due to his support of terrorism, and speaks with her only because she is young and pretty.
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