REVIEW: Tell Me No Lies – Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs

Edited by John Pilger.

What an incredible book. If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll be aware that I am gradually drawing closer towards a career in journalism and my girlfriend kindly purchased this book for my 20th birthday to give me an insight into what investigative journalism actually consisted of. Honestly, the book has barely left my hand for the past three weeks and some of the government secrets and layers of corruption described in the book has most definitely taught me that we should never take events at face value.

The book is brilliant specifically because of the scope of articles selected by Pilger. These range from the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, to the brutal Pol Pot regime as well as covering humanitarian catastrophes in countries such as Iraq.

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For a man who likes his contemporary history, this book was a gold mine of facts with each chapter never failing to intrigue me. The chapters reporting on the corruption relating to the miners strike in the 1970s and the American, and British backed, sanctions imposed against Saddam’s regime in the 1990’s which presented a menacing perspective of the Thatcher and Blair administrations.

Below, I have outlined the chapters that I found the most gripping. Like I have mentioned previously, Pilger has provided such a selection of topics in the book that you should definitely presume these chapters to represent a main trend; there is undoubtedly a subject in this book that will amaze you, simply because Pilger has accommodated for such a range of interests.

The earliest chapters discuss the end of the Second World War, with the proceeding chapters running right up until the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and so I have tried to give you an indication of the best articles relating to some of the late Twentieth Century’s most controversial moments.

  • Martha Gellhorn – Dachau (1945)
  • Wilfred Burchett – The Atomic Plague (1945)
  • Seymour M. Hersh – The Massacre at My Lai (1970)
  • Max du Preez and Jacques Pauw – Exposing Apartheid’s Death Squads (1988-94)
  • Anna Politkovskaya – Chechnya: A Dirty War (1992-2002)
  • Mark Curtis – Complicity in a Million Deaths (2003)
  • David Armstrong – Drafting a Plan for Global Dominance (2002) AND Reporting the Truth About Iraq (1998-2004)
  • Jo Wilding – Eyewitness in Falluja (2004)
  • Edward W. Said – Covering Islam and Terrorism (1997/2002)

That might seem like quite a hefty list but if you are interested, a quick google of some of the above names will show you that these are experts of their field. The book has certainly given me some aspiration as to the sorts of journalism I would like to be involved in, but it has particularly taught me that democracies aren’t as honest as they appear.

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I hope you enjoy the book, and as always I’d love to hear your feedback on any of the chapters I have mentioned above. I will most definitely be engrossing myself with some more of John Pilger’s material.

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