Friday, 15 April 2011

Point of Departure

Title: Point of Departure

Author: James Cameron

Number of pages: 312

Started: 8 April 2011

Finished: 15 April 2011

Opening words:

I cannot remember when these curious moments of suspense first began, when I would find myself unanchored and adrift in the dark groping for clues as to where I was. Sometimes, indeed, even who I was. These moments came, and still come, at the exact transition between sleep and awakening, lying on the edge of uncertainty: what is this bed, where is this room, what lies beyond it – Egypt, Engalnd, Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Minneapolis, Peking; there have been so many places, and any of them could be the background of this vacuum.

Plot summary:

Reportage resists easy definition and comes in many forms - travel essay, narrative history, autobiography - but at its finest it reveals hidden truths about people and events that have shaped the world we know. This new series, hailed as 'a wonderful idea' by Don DeLillo, both restores to print and introduces for the first time some of the greatest works of the genre. The classic memoir by one of the great British journalists of the twentieth century, a man who earned universal respect not only for his courage in reporting from dangerous places, but for his candour and independence. "Point of Departure" features Cameron's eyewitness accounts of the atom bomb tests at Bikini atoll, the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the war in Korea; and vivid evocations of his encounters with Mao Tse-tung and Winston Churchill.

What I thought:

This is the first non-fiction book I have read for ages. It was the account of a journalist, James Cameron, who was mainly active post WWII to the 1970s. This meant that they were not periods of history that I have lived though, although some of them were familiar. I think because the book was not giving a perspective on things that I was particularly familiar with, it made the book less accessible/ relevant to me. I did not necessarily understand the politics that was beneath some of the things that happened or that Cameron reflected upon. But that said, it was a book that gave a unique perspective in some major points of history. He was there when atom bombs were dropped 9and became one of the founders of CND as a result). He was there to see Churchill when he was frail and expected to due imminently. For others with a more indepth view of history, I suspect they would have got more out of this than I did, but nonetheless it gave some fascinating insights into 20th Century world history.

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