By Eric Campbell
Award-winning overseas correspondent Eric Campbell has been stoned via fundamentalists, captured via US particular 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. through turns provocative and thoughtful, ABSURDISTAN is a memoir approximately juggling life, love and fatherhood whereas reporting from one of the most dysfunctional areas on the earth.
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Blood without the gore usually got through. Screaming or moaning was best: it gave viewers a feeling of the pain and horror and they could imagine the wounds that caused it. 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.
I looked up and saw two women combing their daughters’ hair. The choom had warmed up to a relatively balmy minus ten. I reached for my water bottle and found it had frozen solid inside my sleeping bag. I put my boots on and clambered outside. Just by the entrance, a woman was sawing off a hunk of frozen reindeer meat for breakfast. Tim was already up filming. ’ I croaked. ‘Really well,’ he said. ’ Suddenly, it felt wonderful to be here. The sky was a brilliant blue, the snow pure white. We were in the middle of nowhere in a nomad camp watching Nentsi herders lassoing reindeer.
For security, the Kremlin was keeping the exact date of his visit a secret. We arrived in Grozny late in the afternoon and stared in disbelief. After eighteen months of fighting, the entire city was in ruins. Almost every building had been bombed, shelled or riddled with machine-gun fire. Most of the population had fled but hundreds of thousands still lived amid the rubble. Some had hung tarpaulins over giant holes in the walls of their homes. Children were carrying buckets of water up the stairwells of bombed apartment blocks.