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Summary and book reviews of In Extremis by Lindsey Hilsum

In Extremis

The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin

by Lindsey Hilsum

In Extremis by Lindsey Hilsum X
In Extremis by Lindsey Hilsum
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2018, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2019, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
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About this Book

Book Summary

The devastating biography of Marie Colvin, the foremost war reporter of her generation, who was killed in Syria in 2012.

When Marie Colvin was killed by an IED in Homs, Syria, in 2012, at age fifty-six, the world lost one of its most fearless, accomplished, and iconoclastic war correspondents, an eye-patch wearing, party-throwing, and risk-taking female combat reporter who covered the most significant and destructive global calamities of her lifetime. In Extremis: The Life and Death of War Reporter Marie Colvin, written by Colvin's friend and prizewinning fellow reporter Lindsey Hilsum, is a thrilling and powerful investigation into Colvin's epic life and tragic death.

After growing up in a middle-class Catholic family on Long Island, Colvin got her start working for The Sunday Times, where she was driven with reckless abandon to tell the stories of the victims of the major conflicts of our time. She lost an eye reporting in Sri Lanka at the end of their civil war, interviewed Gaddafi twice, and risked her life covering conflict in Chechnya, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe. Unsurprisingly, her personal life was as unpredictable as her professional: bold, driven, and complex, she was married multiple times, had many lovers, drank heavily, suffered from PTSD, and refused to be bound by society's expectations for women.

With exclusive access to Colvin's intimate diaries from age thirteen to her death in 2012, interviews with people from every corner of Colvin's extraordinary life, and expert research worthy of Colvin herself, Lindsey Hilsum's In Extremis is a timely and propulsive biography of the foremost war correspondent of her generation.

1.
Dead Man's Branch

She had lived with bad dreams for many years, but nothing prepared Marie for the recurrent nightmare that plagued her after she was shot. As she drifted into sleep, her subconscious reran what had happened, the fear and indecision never resolving, like a horror film stuck on a loop, repeating into infinity.

In the dream, she is lying on the ground, seeing the flares, hearing the machine-gun fire and the soldiers' voices exactly as she heard them that pitch-black night in Sri Lanka before the moon rose over the fields. These are her choices: She can stand up and shout, hoping they will see that she is white and female, obviously a foreigner. She can try to crawl away, knowing they will shoot at anything they see moving. Or she can lie still, awaiting her fate. The decision will determine whether she lives or dies, but nothing will undo what is about to happen. She cannot roll back time, nor can she push it forward. Stand up? Crawl away? Lie still? Stand up...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

As readers, we know that her story will end tragically, yet Marie Colvin's heroic journey from the beginning of her life still provides page-turning suspense. It's only fitting that another journalist, Lindsey Hilsum, honors Colvin with this fascinating, detailed, 400-page biography. Hilsum writes with clarity and precise attention to details. She had access to Colvin's personal journals and interviewed Colvin's numerous friends, colleagues, editors, former husbands and lovers, and family members. Hilsum's narrative is punctuated with excerpts from Covin's dispatches while on assignment for The Sunday Times...continued

Full Review (812 words).

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(Reviewed by Karen Lewis).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Hilsum, who had full access to Colvin’s notes and journals, is able to delve far deeper into her subject’s complicated inner life...Colvin never slowed down long enough to write a memoir. Now, thanks to Hilsum’s deeply reported and passionately written book, she has the full accounting that she deserves.

The New Yorker
Colvin’s life has been memorably chronicled by Hilsum...it is Hilsum’s biography, written by a woman who both knew Colvin and had access to her unpublished reporting notes and private diaries—a trove of some three hundred notebooks—that seems to most closely capture her spirit.

The Washington Post
Magnificent and moving...[Hilsum] captures the clashing extremes of Colvin's life.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A rip-roaring life rendered extremely well.

Author Blurb Annie Lennox
Writing a biography of Marie Colvin is like capturing lightning in a bottle, but Lindsey Hilsum has the knowledge and personal experience to help us understand what drew Colvin to rush towards the eye of the storm at such great risk.

Author Blurb Jon Lee Anderson, author of The Fall of Baghdad
One of the modern world's most experienced and admired foreign correspondents, Lindsey Hilsum has now written a riveting, intimate, and deeply moving account of the epic life of her late friend and colleague, Marie Colvin.

Author Blurb Nicholas Shakespeare, author of Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister
In Lindsey Hilsum, Marie Colvin has found, posthumously, the right biographer. She penetrates the war-zone of Colvin's life, and fetches her back in all her beautiful, brave complexity.

Author Blurb William Boyd, author of The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth and Sweet Caress
A stunningly good biography--compelling, revelatory and very moving. Lindsey Hilsum is the perfect writer to tell the story of Marie Colvin's rackety, brave and charismatic life.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Journalists on the Front Lines

Hundreds of journalists and photographers have been killed in the line of duty, including Marie Colvin whose life story is told in In Extremis. The international Committee to Protect Journalists has been tallying data since 1992. As of 2018, more than 1,300 journalists have died while reporting on the job with more than 600 additional media workers killed (often near their homes or their offices) most likely as a result of their work. Sometimes motives for murder are murky, and the cases are never resolved. This is a global situation, where journalists working to develop their stories often encounter forces beyond their control. Here are a few who risked everything to bring stories to the world's attention. This is a small sample of so many...

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