Six essential reads on conflicts

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The War is Dead, Long Live the War by Ed Vulliamy

The Guardian's Ed Vulliamy covered the Bosnian conflict first-hand: indeed, revered war correspondent John Simpson argues that his reporting on the Omarska and Trnopolje concentration camps helped to bring the war to international attention. Whether he is tracing the break-up of Yugoslavia or detailing the horrors at Srebrenica, Vulliamy writes with compassion and intelligence.


Besieged by Barbara Demmick

“A whole generation of war correspondents cut their teeth covering Bosnia.” Barbara Demmick, then a correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, cut hers on Sarajevo’s Logavina Street. The articles she wrote about ordinary Sarajevans enduring the siege became this extraordinary book, detailing the lack of amenities, the friendships and enmities. Demmick also explores the aftermath by tracing the residents’ stories to the present day.


The Face of War by Martha Gellhorn

Martha Gellhorn, who was married to Ernest Hemingway, was a trailblazing war correspondent: she covered the rise of Hitler and the Second World War, before reporting from Vietnam and the Middle East. The Face of War collects the best of her work, including the Spanish Civil War, following Polish soldiers in the Italian mountains and, in her 70s, Central America. She is evocative and opinionated: railing that Vietnam was the only war she “reported from the wrong side”.


Fiasco by Thomas E Ricks

There may soon be as many accounts of the recent conflict in Iraq as all the others put together. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Tom Ricks’s Fiasco combines reporting from the frontline with searing indictment of the Bush administration’s planning and execution of the invasion.


The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk has been reporting from war zones around the Middle East for 40 years and has lived in Beirut since 1976. The Great War gathers his best writing from across the region and includes face-to-face interviews with Osama bin Laden, encounters with Saddam Hussein, alongside provocative, even polemical accounts of the Gulf War and Algerian War among others.


Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh was not a war correspondent and Scoop, his 1938 comic masterpiece, is a work of fiction. But it is probably the most famous, albeit satirical, portrait of the craft. Having written mainly about rural England, William Boot finds himself covering a civil war in the fictional East African state, Ishmaelia. Waugh's sardonic plot, which revolves around the pursuit of sensation over truth, feels eerily topical.