Ryszard Kapuscinski
Travels with Herodotus.
Knopf, 275 pages, $25

In his youth the Polish war correspondent Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932–2007) was well prepared for his life’s work. He lived through the Nazi invasion of Poland, the doomed underground resistance, and the destruction of Warsaw, as well as the totalitarian oppression of the postwar Communist regime. He became the perfect interpreter of the Third World for the West. It’s significant that on his first trip to India he flew west from Warsaw to Rome, and west to Amsterdam on his first journey to Hong Kong. Though Italy had lost the war and Poland had been on the victorious side, Rome (which had been an open city) seemed amazingly luxurious compared to the ruins of Warsaw. When he first began his career, under Soviet rule, all criticism was forbidden and he was forced to write obliquely: “Each word had a double meaning, a false bottom, a hidden...


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