“For we are led and must follow whether we want to or not; there is no place to secede to. But we need not follow in silence; we still have the right and duty, as private citizens, to keep our own records straight. As one of the millions of the led, I will not be herded any farther along this imbecile road to nothingness without raising my voice in protest. My NO will be as effective as one cricket chirp. My NO is this book.” — Martha Gellhorn, The Face of War, 1959 —
Have you ever read a book where your chest just kind of caves in a little bit from word one? My Dad recommended Martha Gellhorn’s The Face of War, based on an April 2013 article by Janine di Giovanni in Harper’s magazine. Evidently, di Giovanni brought one book to Sarajevo to cover that war, and Gellhorn’s The Face of War was it.
The high praise appears merited. Gellhorn was a war correspondent for 50 years (during some of which, interestingly, she was married to Ernest Hemmingway). The Face of War is a collection of her work from the Spanish Civil War in ’37 through the conflicts (and US involvement) in Central America in the ’80s. Her first introduction is dated 1959. Her second, 1986. I’m about 10 pages in and I can’t even wait any longer to pause and declare it the most arresting writing I’ve experienced in some time. For anyone who has spent energy contemplating the usefulness of truth-seeking, I recommend taking a peek at her introduction. I am disarmed. For anyone interested in courageous journalism, I can’t imagine I won’t be recommending the entire book. For one thing, what exactly did take place during the Spanish Civil War, and why don’t I know more about it? Pardon me as I get back to it.