David Randall, author of The Universal Journalist, presents 13 in-depth profiles of the best journalists who ever lived - nine Americans and four Britons, ten men and three women, whose lives were full of adventure, wit and the ingenuity to bring the story home.

Anne Leslie
Reporter, Daily Mail

Perhaps the most versatile journalist ever, Leslie has reported – with attitude – on anything from pre-teen beauty contests to genocide. She was present at almost all the late twentieth century’s major events, and has filed from more than 70 countries.
Most of Leslie’s stories were not plump fruit hanging from official trees waiting to be picked by anyone who could read a handout (never, probably, has a reporter written so much and used the word ‘spokesman’ so less). They had to be mined, sometimes under cover, sometimes by presenting herself as the world’s least likely-looking foreign correspondent, or by assuming her boom-voiced daughter of the Raj persona.
Her resourcefulness enabled her wangle hr way onto Death Row, find and interview Castro’s illegitimate daughter, get to the North Korean border and illicitly talk to victims of that terrible famine, confront one of Russia’s most feared ‘businessman’ about a contract killing; and, in Tehran, disguise herself in a burka to meet dissidents at night. This, as with her walk alone into Jerusalem’s sniper-filled alleys, was after three serious operations which left her needing to take medication for the rest of her life.

And, in the stories she filed, always the economical, waspish, pen – whether it was something as light as the shenanigans of TV evangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker:

'If you pray for a camper,’ Jim roguishly urged his flock, ‘be sure to tell God what colour!’ He made God sound like a celestial mail order magnate – but instead of sending your savings or your welfare cheques to heaven, you mailed them to Jim and Tammy Bakker.”

Or as dark as Haiti in 1994:

“Night after gun-punctured night, I can lie in my bed in the ghostly Oloffson…and listen, as Graham Greene once listened, to the distant staccato sounds of the poor killing the poor in the interests of the rich.”

All text and logos copyright David Randall

Book cover images copyright Pluto Press