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A Thousand Suns: Witness to History

Lapierre, Dominique

ISBN 10: 0446525359 / ISBN 13: 9780446525350
Published by Warner Books, 1999
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Signed 0446525359 Inscribed by the author on plate tipped onto the front endsheet. Bookseller Inventory # 010802

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A Thousand Suns: Witness to History

Publisher: Warner Books

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Among the premier journalists of our time, Dominique Lapierre has traveled to the four corners of the globe, witnessed world-shaking events, and met extraordinary people from all walks of life. Now this remarkable man shares his adventures and encounters in a book that aptly reflects a favorite proverb from India: that beyond the clouds, there are always........A THOUSAND SUNS.

Starting with his fledging days as a reporter for Paris Match. Lapierre candidly traces his growth from detached journalist to concerned participant in the great human dramas he was privileged to behold. Vividly and insightfully, he recaptures his personal involvements with many different kinds of heroes, such as:
* Caryl Chessman, the American prisoner who stalwartly staved off a death sentence for twelve yearsm and whose execution caused worldwide controversy over capital punishment
* Raphal Matta, chief warden of the Ivory Coast's Bouna Game Reserve, who gave his life in his valiant fight to save the elephants of Africa from extinction
* Ehud Avriel, the modest man who, against all odds, commandeered the secret mass emigration of European Jews to Palestine, secured the first arms for a dawning, threatened Israel, and went on to become one of the founding fathers of that nation
* El Cordobs, the legendary Andalusian bullfighter whose passion and daring catapulted him from penniless obscurity to fame and fortune - and who embodied the hopes of Spain to escape from the chains of tyranny and join a modern Europe
* And the anonymous inhabitants of a Calcutta slum, whose struggles in the face of overwhelming poverty will reaffirm your faith in the courage, compassion, and dignity of the human spirit.

From Japanese terrorists in the Holy Land to freedom fighters fascists Portugal; from the spread of Nazism to the liberation of Paris; from Mahatma Gandhi to Mother Teresa, Lapierre delves eloquently into the very heart of the history of our time. Most of all, this international bestseller bears moving testimony to the ability of mankind to endure, to dream, and to triumph.

Review:

Dominique Lapierre was one of the pioneers of the subjective news story, a man who was never afraid to put himself, both physically and emotionally, at the heart of his reports. It is a style that has often been imitated, but as A Thousand Suns shows, it has seldom been bettered. In 1944, Lapierre won his own footnote in history by misdirecting the German tanks and accelerating the liberation of Paris by two days. You could argue that ever since, he has been making sure that other people get the credit they deserve.

A Thousand Suns is both a personal memoir and a testament to the notable characters Lapierre met along the way, from the great and the good, such as Mother Teresa, to the infamous (such as Caryl Chessman, who was executed in San Quentin in 1960), to the more anonymous. Throughout, Lapierre is always looking for the personal details that make the stories come alive. And he finds them. He discovers that General von Choltitz, the Nazi in charge of occupied Paris, had had an overcoat made in the summer of 1944 "because he thought it would be cold in a POW camp." Kozo Okamato, the only surviving Red Army Faction (RAF) member to bomb Lod airport, tells him he became a terrorist after being dumped twice by girlfriends. "At the time the RAF seemed a less demanding lover." These are the insights that animate Lapierre's work, and he is never afraid to find the humanity in even the most apparently evil of people.

However, this tendency is both a virtue and his undoing, as Lapierre sometimes allows his obvious affection for his subject to cloud all judgment. An example can be found in his accounts of Lord Mountbatten of Burma. Mountbatten was a known charmer, but his record on the partition of India does not bear scrutiny. His fudging of the boundaries, and the speed with which he acted, was undoubtedly a significant factor in the mass bloodshed that followed. Lapierre lets him off the hook with a single sentence: "By extricating his country from the Indian wasps' nest without spilling a drop of British blood, Mountbatten had saved Great Britain from one of those colonial wars of which France had made a speciality." Even for a partisan observer, this simply will not do. But a journalist who cares too much is always preferable to one who doesn't care at all, and Lapierre especially so, for the range and depth of his reportage, if nothing else. He harks back to a more innocent age when public figures were more open and trusting; few journalists would get anything like the access to equivalent figures today. Enjoy him, warts and all. You won't see his like again. --John Crace, Amazon.co.uk

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