Once it was simple to write about war. States or ideologies clashed; battles were fought between national armies or movements. But war has changed. War has become 'privatised' by small armed groups, states have fragmented and the conventional arms of the United States have been defeated by warlordism. Drawing on the author's experiences as the Observer's chief foreign correspondent, The Secret Life of War focusses on the human cost of war: to the combatants, to civilians and to the author, as one who bears witness. Every encounter is arresting: a visit to the bombed and abandoned home of Mullah Omar; a deserted Al Qaeda camp where Beaumont discovers documents describing a plan to bomb London; young bomb-throwers in Rafah refugee camp. But what marks out The Secret Life of War from innumerable other accounts is the sum it makes of these parts: a lasting catalogue of fear and harm, an anatomy of the human impulse to confrontation; an atlas of armed conflict. Often travelling unembedded and without bodyguards in some of the world's most dangerous locations, he has managed to achieve a rare closeness with his interview subjects, a sense of intimacy with soldiers and other combatants even in the midst of ongoing violence. Unflinching and exquisitely written, The Secret Life of War goes beyond classic reportage: it is a deeply personal and defining vision of the inner, secret nature of modern war.
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The Secret Life of War is an awesome read, the best enquiry into killing and suffering I've encountered. A plea for resolution, a document of brutal honesty, the bare truth: in it beats the pulse of being there in the throes of modern conflict - Tim Page
Beaumont's account of war reporting in the Middle East is astonishing, not least for its careful detail and his self-searching honesty. A superb piece of work. - Esquire
An intelligent, deeply perceptive work drawn from nearly two decades of experience reporting conflict... Rather than merely identify the superficial changes, Beaumont has slipped beneath the skin of contemporary warfare to examine what lies beneath... never less than compelling and at times brilliant... Beaumont's diligent style of journalism is in short supply these days. - Times
The author succeeds magnificently - to such an extent that this book should be required reading for every student of international affairs, every enthusiastic armchair strategist and every aspiring entrant to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. - Tribune
Beaumont writes beautifully and calmly, even when describing the fiercest and most emotive moments of war. - Observer
Modern war is all about complexity and uncertainty, and in his accounts of his journeys through conflict, Beaumont certainly evokes this... Beaumont is evidently a brave and determined reporter. - Literary Review
A superb writer - Neal Ascherson, New York Review of Books
Peter Beaumont is the Foreign Affairs Editor of the Observer. He joined the paper in 1989 and has covered numerous conflicts and crises. He is the recipient of various awards including the One World Media Award, the Amnesty International Media award, and the George Orwell Prize for Journalism. He was educated at Hampton Grammar School and Keble College, Oxford and lives in London.