Bonds of Indebtedness

Lawrence Rosen

  • On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World by Jason Burke
    Allen Lane, 297 pp, £20.00, May 2006, ISBN 0 7139 9896 2

The death toll in Iraq continues to rise: more than 2600 American soldiers, 113 British troops, 130 from other countries, perhaps 40,000 Iraqi civilians. And more than 70 journalists, outnumbering the 69 killed in World War Two, the 63 in Vietnam and the 17 in Korea. The risks involved mean that it is hard to ask whether journalists do a good enough job in telling us what we need to know. Stories are not driven by content alone, but by the way in which they are formulated and presented, often without the storyteller or audience being fully aware of the process. The result may be that the narrative diverts attention from the substance of what we are being told: we need to be careful not to confuse the forms of verisimilitude with the insights we are apparently being given.

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