Recently on ABC 'Big Ideas' I saw Megan Stack talked with Kerry O’Brien at the Byron Bay Writers Festival about her work. At the age of 25 immediately after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre she flew in to Afghanistan and became a war correspondent for the “Los Angeles Times”.
What intrigue me was the title of her book "Every Man In This Village Is A Liar: An Education In War." She was articulate and recounted her experiences lucidly without much embellishment of the wars that she has seen in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Lebanon. What especially stood out for me was her description of a problem Israel had during the Intifada – the uprising by Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza Strip and the West bank against Israel.
She told about how, when the suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests, their bodies would be blown apart but their heads and feet would be left intact. As the attacks by the suicide bomber increased the mounting numbers of heads and feets in the Israel morgues became a problem. What do they do with it? Nobody came to claim these heads and feets. Such are the problems that wars bring with it. It puts into perspective the problems we have in going about our daily lives.
She also described what she saw in these wars. How hospitals became the centre of activities – not because people came for treatment but because the hospitals were the place where the dead were brought to – and people go there to look for their loved ones. You go there to look for your missing ones and yet hope against hope that you will not find them there – because if there are not there then there might be a chance, however remote, that they are still alive somewhere.
If you have the time watch the interview that I spoke of - which I download below - it will be time well spent. We think sometimes that we know what life is until we hear what others have endured, what they have seen and what they have to go through. Megan Stack is one of those people who will make you think and understand just a little bit more about man inhumanities to their own.
I will read her book "Every Man In This Village Is A Liar: An Education In War". Here is a comment from someone who has read a few chapters of it and cannot wait to tell everyone else to go and read it – before she had even finished reading the book herself!
“This happened to me at the Byron Bay Writers Festival with Megan Stack, an American foreign correspondent whose speaking eloquence is surpassed only by the eloquence of her writing.
I caught the last 15 minutes of her one-on-one conversation with Kerry O’Brien and I am still kicking myself for not having made it there for the other 45. Stack is unassuming and softly spoken, but possesses incisive, observation skills which she uses in breathtaking manner. But don’t just take my word for it. As a result of hearing her speak, everyone rushed to the tent to buy her book, Every Man in this Village is a Liar: An Education in War. It quite literally sold out (I think it was the only one at the festival to do so) and they had to get a new shipment in.
Just a few days ago I practically implored you to read a book that I was just 30-odd pages into, but already knew I was going to love. This was partly because I’d heard excerpts read out from it, and partly because I’d been completely floored by the unassuming but startling eloquence with which the author spoke about it. The book was Every Man in this Village is a Liar, the author Megan Stack. I’m now 60-odd pages into the book, in which Stack grapples with the concept of truth in war, and am standing by my good book claim.