Stop everything and read Kapuscinski’s “Shah of Shahs” right now

Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Shah of Shahs absolutely blown me away this weekend.  I’ve always considered myself more than well-read (relative to most Americans) in regards to the Islamic Revolution, but Kapuscinski’s first-person reporting in Shah of Shahs is incredible.  It’s the war reporter’s version of In Cold Blood: immediate, passionate, penetrating, infuriating, and captivating.  And the quality of the prose (translated from Polish to English) is excellent.

kapuscinskiAnd this guy, Kapuscinski, this guy was crazy.  Just read his bio blurb on the first page.  That alone encouraged me to order The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat.  And then I read Shah of Shahs.  This guy was who my 18-year-old self wanted to be when I decided to go to school for journalism back in the 90s.

So this is the book I read over the weekend.  It’s only about 150 pages, and I crushed the first 100 pages on Sunday.  An easy and compelling read.  How did I find this book?  We’re moving to The Stolen Child in my writing class for the next two weeks, and I wasn’t very enthused about it after reading the first chapter.  I needed something to distract me, and I found a mention to this book to an Iran travel guide I started reading last week.  And now that I’ve discovered Kapuscinski, it’s got me inspired to dig into his stuff and Hunter S. Thompson’s non-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas* works.  That’s just based on the “here’s one famous reporter and then here’s another” association.

* One of my most absolute favorite books in the world.

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