by Lara Marlowe
When Lara Marlowe met Robert Fisk in 1983 in Damascus, he was already a famous war correspondent. She was a young American reporter who would become a renowned journalist in her own right. For the next twenty years, they were lovers, husband and wife and friends, occasionally angry and estranged from one another, but ultimately reconciled.
They learned from each other and from the people in the ruined world they reported from: Lebanon, torn apart by a vicious civil war as well as Israeli and Syrian occupations; Iran, where they were the only journalists to interview the Middle East's chief hostage-taker and dispatcher of suicide bombers; the Islamist revolt that claimed up to 200,000 lives in Algeria; the disintegration of former Yugoslavia and two US-led wars on Iraq.
They survived encounters with murderous gunmen; sheltered together under bombardment in Beirut, Belgrade and Baghdad. In countries under attack from their own governments, they had to gain the trust of interlocutors who often assumed they were spies. Back home in the US and Britain, they were sometimes accused of partisan reporting because they refused to toe the party line.
Through all this they loved and respected each other, though their marriage eventually failed, partly under the pressure of work. Even after they separated, they remained friends and wrote and spoke to each other with affection. This is at once a portrait of a remarkable man by a woman who loved him, the story of a Middle East broken by its own divisions and outside powers, and a moving account of a relationship in dark times.
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Date of Publication: 26/10/2021