Telegram from Guernica
On 26 April 1937, in the rubble of the bombed city of Guernica, the world's press scrambled to submit their stories. But one journalist held back, and spent an extra day exploring the scene. His report pointed the finger at secret Nazi involvement in the devastating aerial attack. It was the lead story in both The Times and the New York Times , and became the most controversial dispatch of the Spanish Civil War.
Who was this Special Correspondent, whose report inspired Picasso's black-and-white painting Guernica - the most enduring single image of the twentieth century - and earned him a place on the Gestapo Special Wanted List?
George Steer, a 27-year-old adventurer, was a friend and supporter of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I. He foresaw and alerted others to the fascist game-plan in Africa and all over Europe; initiated new techniques of propaganda and psychological warfare; saw military action in Ethiopia, Spain, Finland, Libya, Egypt, Madagascar and Burma; married twice and wrote eight books.
Without Steer, the true facts about Guernica's destruction might never have been known. In this exhilarating biography, Nicholas Rankin brilliantly evokes all the passion, excitement and danger of an extraordinary life, right up to Steer's premature death in the jungle on Christmas Day 1944.
'Superb ... Rankin has created a detailed Boy's Own tragedy, brimful of pathos and insight. His beautifully written book represents a timely revival of one of the great reportage writers of the last century.' Robert Macfarlane, Observer
'An exemplary biography. Rankin has painstakingly pieced together Steer's exploits, notably in Spain where he broke the news to the world of the destruction of Guernica.' Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph
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