Michael Buerk’s autobiography The Road Taken is a book I’d never heard of before I picked it up in the library. Forget that, I hadn’t even heard of the guy. Michael who?
Well, Michael (for one) who reported on the famine in Ethopia which led to the Live Aid concert, as it says here in his BBC profile:
The reports were watched in horror by singer Bob Geldof. He bullied and cajoled a host of pop stars into gathering to form Live Aid, and persuaded millions of people to part with their money to help the starving.
The book is a fascinating story of Buerk’s journey from small-time newspaper reporting to radio and then to the big time television reporting. Buerk talks about his time in Ireland, the Ethopian famine of course, the time in apartheid South Africa and his numerous other adventures. He also talks about his painful, non-existent relationship with his father and how he finally met his step-brothers much later in life.
His writing is clear, there’s no mincing of words, and his sense of humour is perfect. The evocative images and the dangerous nature of reporting, especially in areas where violence is common comes through in this remarkable book.
It’s a superb book by a superb journalist.