Just as the real-life Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were displaced to a degree by their film counterparts, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, in All the President’s Men, so the real Sydney Schanberg has been overshadowed by Sam Waterston’s depiction in The Killing Fields. This collection helps to bring the real Sydney Schanberg back to the fore. Its centerpiece is the 1980 article from The New York Times Magazine about Schanberg’s loss and recovery of his steadfast Cambodian colleague, Dith Pran, an account even more wrenching than the film version. But the book contains much more: stories and analyses from the decade when, as the author recalls, his life “turned into a war assignment” in Laos, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and, of course, Cambodia. He confesses that he still hears the siren call of war, and not only for the adrenaline rush it produces in the correspondent. Writes Schanberg: “The people should be told and shown—even if they wish to turn their eyes away—what is being waged in their name.”

 

James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.