The best books to read if you want to write like a war correspondent

The Books I Picked & Why

"Anyone Here Been Raped and Speaks English?"

By Edward Behr

Book cover of "Anyone Here Been Raped and Speaks English?"

Why this book?

Being a foreign correspondent in the so-called "developing world" is complicated in a myriad of ways, and journalists often become so deep into the story that their needs become strangely surgical, legal, and surreal.

Need some specific quotes to describe what is happening amid a bloodbath? Want to profile victims of torture and slaughter? Behr's book brings you into his experience as a foreign correspondent for Newsweek in Africa and other media work in a way few other reporters would like to admit -- except to each other.

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By Michael Herr

Book cover of Dispatches

Why this book?

The basic rule of writing a news story? Declarative sentences. These are easily understood and avoid confusing readers who want factual information first, with less of an emphasis on literary style. But all that changed when Herr wrote this book which turns words into weapons as you'll read in his lyrical and chilling reports during the U.S.-Vietnam War.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

By Hunter S. Thompson

Book cover of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Why this book?

If you haven't read this famous book, and didn't consider it as reporting about war, then take another look because this is Thompson's personal and public battle with America's mainstream culture.

Brutal. Takes no prisoners. No surrender.

Find out who are the winners and losers, and why these people and their beliefs are shaping today's world and the cultural revolution in the American homeland.

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The Journal of Albion Moonlight

By Kenneth Patchen

Book cover of The Journal of Albion Moonlight

Why this book?

The fiercely independent spirit of surrealists and other people trying to survive during World War 2 permeates this opulent novel with ghostly quotes and rebellious beliefs.

Laced with angels, forests, dreams, and women, this diary becomes increasingly fraught with questions of obedience, patriotism, dictatorship, and freedom.

Will your own perceptions be radicalized or soothed by this war story?

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A Clockwork Orange

By Anthony Burgess

Book cover of A Clockwork Orange

Why this book?

If all war is class war, then this urban battlefield is where society breaks down.

The movie was excellent. But the book is so much deeper with its own Russian-derived, invented slang in the mouths of British louts feeding on the terrible taste of "ultra-violence".

It doesn't matter which side you are on because everyone loses in their attempts to break through or control -- two directions that ultimately lead to our current real-life dystopia.

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