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Is Journalism Worth Dying For?

Final Dispatches

Translated by Arch Tait

From an article found on Anna Politkovskaya’s computer after her death; it is addressed to her readers abroad:

I will not go into all the joys of the path I have chosen: the poisoning, the arrests, the menacing by mail and over the Internet, the telephoned death threats. The main thing is to get on with my job, to describe the life I see, to receive visitors every day in our newspaper’s offices….

What am I guilty of? I have merely reported what I witnessed, nothing but the truth.

Anna Politkovskaya won international fame for her courageous reporting. Is Journalism Worth Dying For? is a long-awaited collection of her final writing.

Beginning with a brief introduction by the author about her pariah status, the book contains essays that characterize the self-effacing Politkovskaya more fully than she allowed in her other books. From deeply personal statements about the nature of journalism, to horrendous reports from Chechnya, to sensitive pieces of memoir, to, finally, the first translation of the series of investigative reports that Politkovskaya was working on at the time of her murder—pieces many believe led to her assassination.

Elsewhere, there are illuminating accounts of encounters with leaders including Lionel Jospin, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, and such exiled figures as Boris Berezovsky, Akhmed Zakaev, and Vladimir Bukovsky. Additional sections collect Politkovskaya’s nonpolitical writing, revealing her delightful wit, deep humanity, and willingness to engage with the unfamiliar, as well as her deep regrets about the fate of Russia.

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ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA (born 1958 in New York City) was a special correspondent for the Russian newspaper Novaya gazeta and the author of A Dirty WarA Small Corner of HellPutin’s Russia; and A Russian Diary. She was murdered in Moscow on October 7, 2006.

Is Journalism Worth Dying For? is a book of sustained moral witness….a plangent document of journalistic heroism.” —Dwight Garner, New York Times

“Of all the investigative reporters I’ve been acquainted with, Politkovskaya might have embodied the most remarkable combination of courage (some might call it foolhardiness) and talent…Is Journalism Worth Dying For? is a marvelous testament to her courage and skill.” —Steve Weinberg, San Francisco Chronicle

“There is pathos and sorrow in these pages, but also hope and lightness…beautifully, even lyrically, written.” —Michael J. Bonafield, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Her enduring importance derives from her refusal to capitulate despite seemingly unbearable pressure–and, even more basically, her commitment to rigorous on-the-ground reporting when journalists, even when not faced with official intimidation, spend more time with PR flacks than sources and victims.” —Jason Farago, Barnes and Noble Review

“An essential book for budding Russia hands, followers of world events and fans of good journalism.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“An inspiring collection.” —Booklist

“Suppression of freedom of speech, of expression, reaches its savage ultimate in the murder of a writer. Anna Politkovskaya refused to lie in her work; her murder is a ghastly act, and an attack on world literature.” —Nadine Gordimer

“She is the voice of conscience faced with brutal inhumanity and the peril that goes with it. But this superb collection of the pieces she wrote for Novaya gazeta adds another dimen- sion. It measures her as a journalist against other journalists round the world. It reveals a superb original technician.” —Peter Preston, The Observer

“Like all great investigative reporters, Anna Politkovskaya brought forward human truths that rewrote the official story. We will continue to read her, and learn from her, for years.” —Salman Rushdie

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