2009 Booker Prize

Not Untrue and Not Unkind – Ed O’Loughlin

 Long listed for the Booker Prize 2009

Not Untrue and Not Unkind follows a group of foreign correspondents covering breaking news stories in Africa. Their work is dangerous, but brings a camaraderie not normally seen between people with such different personalities.

This is a very good book and I can see why it made it on to the Booker long list. The writing is vivid, shocking at times, but always clear and easy to follow. It lost some momentum towards the middle, but picked up again after a few chapters.

The subject matter of the book means that some scenes are disturbing to read. The contrast between the African people and the reporters, who only glimpse the horrors before heading back to their posh hotels, emphasizes the differences between the two groups.

The plot was straight forward, but while it was an interesting insight into the life of a reporter, it didn’t have that special spark I’m looking for in a book. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and often felt detached from the horrors I was reading about.

Recommended to anyone considering becoming a war correspondent, and fans of Kate Adie’s books, but it isn’t really my sort of thing.


Do you enjoy books written by war correspondents?

Was this book one of your favourites from the Booker list this year?

12 replies on “Not Untrue and Not Unkind – Ed O’Loughlin”

I do like books written by war correspondents, because they really see life, death, and its consequences at the street level. But to be authentic, the reporter needs to be willing to get their hands dirty. No going back to posh hotels. That’s cheating.

These reporters do get their hands dirty and I don’t blame them for staying in the hotel – the danger would make me stay there too. You might like this book, so give it a try if you ever see a copy.

Have you read Dispatches by Michael Herr? He was a war correspondent for the Vietnam War. That was an awesome and powerful book as I recall. I read it in the early 1980s, so the details are now foggy. I am not usually a fan of this type of book, but Dispatches really held my attention.

No – I haven’t read Dispatches. I’ll keep an eye out for it, but like you I’m not normally a fan of books written by war correspondents. I prefer to hear about life from the perspective of the locals.

I wouldn’t have picked this up if it hadn’t been on the Booker list. It is a very good book, just not my sort of thing.

Wow…this is just the kind of book I would love to read. I’m always looking out for books on war correspondents. And I love books on Africa. Thanks for reviewing it Kackie, I’ll add it to my wishlist.

I’d love to hear the opinion of someone who likes this sort of thing – I look forward to reading your review!

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