During the Cold War, Ryszard Kapuscinski wrote Soviet dissident literature, but he did so by focusing on the Third World. His dissections of tyranny in Ethiopia and Iran were imperfect allegories for what was occurring in his Polish homeland behind the Iron Curtain. But while his descriptions of the last days of Emperor Haile Selassie and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi had the power of the best samizdat classics, his writing was never merely political or journalistic; it had the spare and arresting irony of an Albert Camus.
Polish journalist Artur Domoslawski's biography of Kapuscinski, who died from a heart attack in 2007 at age 74, is a welcome portrait of the writer. The book exposes its subject's many imperfections, but Mr. Domoslawski wisely does not to get carried away with them. Kapuscinski certainly had his flaws, but with his writing he made a valuable contribution to the war against oppression.
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