By Eric Campbell

ISBN-10: 0730445887

ISBN-13: 9780730445883

Award-winning international correspondent Eric Campbell has been stoned via fundamentalists, captured via US precise Forces, arrested in Serbia and threatened with expulsion from China. He′s negotiated relationship rituals in Moscow, shared a home with a charismatic mercenary in Kabul and brought up smoking at gunpoint in Kosovo. In 2003 in Iraq he was once injured in a suicide bombing which killed his colleague, cameraman Paul Moran. by way of turns provocative and thoughtful, ABSURDISTAN is a memoir approximately juggling life, love and fatherhood whereas reporting from one of the most dysfunctional locations in the world.

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There were no commercial flights across the Urals so we asked the Vorkuta city administration for advice. They suggested we try to hire a plane from a nearby army base. This would have been unthinkable in Soviet times, but it seemed even the military was going entrepreneurial. I went down to the base with Slava and Robert and asked the commander if there was any chance they were flying in that direction and could offer us a lift. ’ he asked. We settled on $1600. The next morning we returned to the base to find a border patrol plane with a dozen armed soldiers waiting for us.

The moaning today was different. I wasn’t sure if it was the woman with the mutilated leg, or the man with the wounded stomach, or the other man who’d been shredded by shrapnel, or my neighbour lying on the floor beside me. The explosion had wrecked my hearing and everything sounded muffled, even someone wailing just a body’s length away. There was a voice in my head, too. It was my own, trying to tell me I wasn’t here. This isn’t real. We don’t get hurt. It’s not our world. We both have babies.

The subsidies had disappeared and the mines were bankrupt. The city that housed the workers and their families had no reason for being, but its 120,000 residents had nowhere else to go. And the likely winner was the political party that had created the whole mess. Vorkuta was a miserable place, but its resident Communist apparatchiks were in high spirits. They met every Saturday morning in a schoolroom with a social realist mural of a mineshaft on the back wall. The venue was a comedown from the days when they ran the city, but they knew their fortunes were changing.

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Absurdistan by Eric Campbell


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