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Fie on this book review
CMAJ 2001;164(11):1566 [PDF]

See response from: V.M. Hanlon
Such snobbery for V.S. Naipaul and Vincent Hanlon to peer down their noses at mere correspondents [Left Atrium].1 "At the end of the day there remains something unsettling about a well written book that grew out of the stories, pictures and transient relationships of an overseas development writer and his subjects," Hanlon writes in reviewing John Stackhouse's Out of Poverty and into Something More Comfortable. Fie on the mercenary scrivener for penning an account of good things happening in developing countries just so he can try to turn a penny. Of course, Hanlon forgets that flood of suffocating mail he receives daily asking for aid, which suggests that donations are resulting in some of the optimism that Stackhouse has highlighted.

It is surprising that Naipaul, who influenced Hanlon, planted the seed that William Howard Russel wrote his reports on the Crimean War and the 1875 mutiny in India to line his pockets rather than to tell it as it was. History shows that Russel's reports changed the course of the war by describing the terrible state of British administration. This should have alerted both Naipaul and Hanlon that the truth, no matter where it appears, can lead to good results. People like Russel and Stackhouse have had a direct influence on the New Internationalist, which Hanlon praises so highly, because their type of investigative reporting is what makes that journal highly desirable. If Stackhouse had published in that magazine, would Hanlon have suggested that the reader get the information at the library rather than buying the magazine?

Charles M. Godfrey
Toronto, Ont.


1. Hanlon V. Developmental reading. CMAJ 2001;164(2):237-8.



Copyright 2001 Canadian Medical Association or its licensors