Professor of Political Science David Ost recently authored a review essay for the Winter 2013 issue of “Dissent,” a quarterly journal of politics and culture. The piece, “Journalism and Revolution,” reviews Artur Domoslawski’s biography of the acclaimed Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski.
The life of Kapuscinski is one of near-mythos. A prolific journalist of the so-called Third World, starting in the 1960s, Kapuscinski became known internationally for his brilliant dissection of power, particularly absolute power, and his incredibly rich, spot-on accounts of everyday citizens as they live their lives in the face of upheaval. With a prose that combined allegorical reporting and philosophical observations, Kapuscinski’s reports blurred the divide between reality and fiction, and often obscured the truth of his own existence.
In his reading of Domoslawski’s biography, Ost examines the author’s use of questions about Kapuscinski’s enigmatic personality to form questions about his journalism as a whole. “Were [Kapuscinski’s] books journalism? Were they about what they were supposed to be about? Can we know? What of his legendary encounters with world-historical revolutionaries? Were they real?” Ost asks.
Ost’s review praises Domoslawski’s work. “Domoslawski spent years researching the book, traveling the world in his mentor’s footsteps. He spoke with friends, fellow journalists, subjects of Kapuscinski’s reports, and spent many hours with the ‘master’ himself,” writes Ost. “The result is a spectacular piece of literary investigation that takes us on an exploration of the meaning of journalism and tells us more about political life and choices in Poland during the communist years-and, in particular, how a leftist could maintain himself as a leftist during that time-than perhaps any book that has appeared to date.”
A member of the political science faculty at HWS since 1986, and a frequent lecturer in eastern Europe, Ost holds a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. His research focuses on labor and politics, democracy and capitalism, and he tries to get at these big questions with a particular focus on eastern Europe.
Ost is also the author of two books on Polish politics: “Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics” and “The Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe.” He has more than 40 articles published in journals, and is on the editorial boards of Politics and Society, East European Politics and Societies, the Polish Sociological Review, and several other European journals. He has also been featured on the BBC, PBS, the “McNeil-Lehrer Report” and on numerous major radio stations.
To read the article in full, visit http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/journalism-and-revolution.