In Extremis

I’m not normally a reader of biographies. However, this beautiful hardback came highly recommended by a friend. This is the bio of Marie Colvin, an American war correspondent. Colvin grew up in the States and worked in papers in both the US & UK. But most of her reporting was done from the ground, in the middle-east and Asia.

This is a most remarkable book. It’s the sort of life account that reads like fiction, it is so full of fantastical events in Colvin’s life and the array of people she met & interviewed. The author is Lindsay Hislum, Colvin’s friend & colleague and someone who clearly knew her well. I found myself questioning Colvin’s decision making multiple times, what sort of person willingly volunteers themselves to the most dangerous areas of the world? And is the first in line to get on a plane to get on ground – from Palestine to Sri Lanka, Lebanon to Syria.

What struck me while reading the first few chapters about Marie’s childhood, is how ‘regular’ it was. And in some ways, it reminded me of another rebel biography, that of Ed Snowden. Individuals like them are shaped by their regular childhood in surprisingly irregular ways. And in so, they find some deep down need for truth despite the danger to their lives. It is fearless lives led like these that make for the most interesting retellings!

Parts of this book are slower than others, obviously. But such pages are few and far between. For the most part, this is an incredible read and certainly a biography worth reading. What a fascinating woman Marie Colvin was!