This tombstone of a book will make Robert Fisk an even greater star. Only a few of us will wonder whether he should have written it at all. It is deeply moving in places, maddening in others – just like the man himself.
I first met Fisk soon after Saddam Hussein started his ‘Whirlwind War’ against Iran in September 1980, a war that was to last eight years and kill between 700,000 and a million people. The late Charles Douglas-Home of The Times called me into his office to ask where Fisk ought to go next. I said ‘Baghdad’ and Fisk fell down in a mock faint to show he had yet to recover from his previous exertions.
Already known for his initiative, stamina, courage and evocative writing, Fisk grew in stature among war reporters until, years later, he became ‘difficult’, stipulating the page on which his reports ought to be printed and what length they should be. Perhaps he was looking for excuses to leave a grand