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Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life Reviewed by Bookforum

Rebecca Nathanson 8 August 2012

In Bookforum's new review of Artur Domosławksi's Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life, Aaron Lake Smith calls the biography "sympathetic but investigative and critical." Referencing Domosławksi's controversial depiction of his mentor-turned-subject, Smith writes:
The lesson is to keep your heroes at a distance. The sheen they acquire rubs off under a too-close inspection of their lives. One could say that Domosławski's predicament as biographer is the stuff of fiction: admiring protégé sets out to write a sympathetic biography, uncovers unpleasant facts about his idol, damages the reputation of the man he hoped to immortalize.
The biography details the life and work of its legendary subject, but, as Smith acknowledges, it also analyzes journalism as a profession and its effects on Kapuściński's self-image:
Domosławski relates a telling anecdote that perhaps holds the key to Kapuściński's inferiority: In a conversation between Kapuściński and a successful poet, the poet remembered Kapuściński lowering his head and saying, "You are a poet in the Polish Writer's Union, but I'm just a journalist."
Visit Bookforum to read the review in full.

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