Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review by JD: The Kindness of Strangers ~ by Kate Adie



A fascinating autobiography from a top BBC reporter who has been “on the frontline” of the world’s trouble spots over the last 30 years.

John’s Thoughts:  While she is probably little known outside of the UK, Kate Adie has become something of an institution in the UK where she has often been the face of the BBC, reporting from the field on some of the most dangerous and tumultuous events of recent history. A down-to-earth and courageous person, she has now been wounded no less than four times while reporting from places such as Northern Ireland, Libya, Lebanon, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and Tiananmen Square. She has witnessed cruelty and “human” behavior at its very worst, but at the same time she has experienced acts of great kindness from people and places where it might least be expected – hence the title of the book.

As well as including great stories and insights about some of the most important news events, the book is equally entertaining when covering her younger years and time spent working for local radio before she became a TV reporter. She came from a comfortable background and her initial naivety about the world made for many humorous learning experiences, which she does a good job of recounting. She also debunks the notion that being a reporter is a glamorous profession; while she has travelled to a multitude of countries as part of her job, the schedule is punishing, the work swings from arduous to boring, and the ability to maintain a normal social life is greatly strained. And as she strives to report on war and social strife, she has spent large parts of her working life in extremely dangerous situations.

I found this a great read. She has lots of stories to tell and she tells them well, with a light touch and a lot of humor. I also learned a lot while reading it. For me at least, I found her coverage of Tiananmen Square, Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Colonel Gaddafi particularly enlightening.

On the down side, I found the structure of the book a bit fragmented and the jumping around in time unnecessary. The book also seems to end abruptly rather than building to a logical conclusion. But these are minor quibbles. I’d rate this book 4 stars and I’d thoroughly recommend it, particularly if you like biographies or current affairs. 


  • The Kindness of Strangers
  • by Kate Adie
  • ISBN: 0-7553-1073-X
  • Pages 425: paperback
  • Headline Book Publishing, 2002

Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

The Kindness of Strangers was borrowed from the holiday cottage where we stayed while in England. Don’t you just love books you find like that?

As always John/JD will be addressing your comments, so please don’t forget to click the follow up box to get his reply.

Happy Thursday. Its good to be home.

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