Scoop is the closest thing foreign correspondents have to a bible. They swear by—and along with generations of general readers laugh at—the zany antics of reporters in fictional Ishmaelia. Few readers, however, are acquainted with Waugh's memoir of his stint as a London Daily Mail correspondent in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) during the Italian invasion in the 1930s. An entertaining account by a cantankerous and unenthusiastic war reporter, Waugh in Abyssinia provides a fascinating short history of Mussolini's imperial adventure as well as a wickedly witty preview of the characters and follies that figure into Waugh's famous satire.
In a new foreword, veteran foreign correspondent John Maxwell Hamilton explores how Waugh ended up in Abyssinia, which real-life events were fictionalized in Scoop, and how this memoir fits into Waugh's overall literary career, which includes the classic Brideshead Revisited. As Hamilton explains, Waugh was the right man (a misfit), in the right place (a largely unknown country that lent itself to farcical imagination), at the right time (when the correspondents themselves were more interesting than the scraps of news they could get.) The result, Waugh in Abyssinia, is a memoir like no other.
John Maxwell Hamilton, a former foreign correspondent, is the author of Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting and other books. He is executive vice chancellor and provost of Louisiana State University, LSU Foundation Hopkins P. Breazeale Professor, and the founding dean of LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication.
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