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.

James Cameron
Foreign correspondent, Daily Express, Picture Post, News Chronicle etc

Cameron was, until his mid-thirties a writer of mawkish features for a Scottish paper and a sub on the Daily Express. Then, almost overnight, he became the quintessential foreign correspondent. Equipped by nature and upbringing with infallible irony and bullshit detectors, he roamed the globe, filing reports of sharp wit and intelligent world-weary wisdom.

From the Inchon Landings, Korea, 1950: “There was a wandering boat, marked in great letters PRESS, full of agitated and contending correspondents, all trying to appear insistently determined to land in Wave One, while contriving desperately to be found in Wave Fifty.”

From his famous suppressed account of how the UN’s ally, South Korea, treated prisoners: “They have been in jail…long enough to have reduced their frames to skeletons, their sinews to string, their faces to a translucent terrible grey…They are roped and manacled…They clamber, the lowest common denominator of personal degradation, into trucks with the numb air of men going to their death. Many of them are.”

And from aftermath of the Six Day War: “The tanks and vehicles litter the desert like the nursery floor of an angry child.”

All the more surprising, then, his career should also include one of the more farcical attempts at a celebrity interview. The year was 1958, the venue a posh London hotel, and the subject Liz Taylor. She greeted him in a negligee and with champagne at the ready, and Cameron was taken with her charms it was some while before he popped the first real question. How, he asked, are the economics of Hollywood affecting you? Miss Taylor’s reply shook him. “Well fuck that! What about your proposals for a new contract?”. She had mistaken him for a fancy movie agent, the interview was over before it started, and Cameron, as he later wrote, “found himself out on the landing in no time.”

All text and logos copyright David Randall

Book cover images copyright Pluto Press