Uncivilized Beasts & Shameless Hellions

JOHN F. BURNETT proves a new truism—that all news is local—as he reports on the state of affairs in newsworthy locales from Kosovo to Waco in UNCIVILIZED BEASTS AND SHAMELESS HELLIONS: TRAVELS WITH AN NPR CORRESPONDENT. The twenty-year veteran of public radio, who calls Austin home, takes a measured approach to the stories he’s covered, whether charmingly improbable (“The Leaf Player of Mexico City,” portraying a street musician who ends up on a Kronos Quartet CD), world changing (“Under the Dragon’s Wing in Iraq,” about being embedded with the U.S. ground forces), or simply unfathomable (“Katrina: The Big One”—no explanation necessary). Burnett eschews braggadocio, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the challenges of broadcasting from the kinds of hostile environments where reporters might get washed away, blown away, or simply taken away by the authorities. All for the privilege of a couple minutes on the air—the sound track to America’s morning latte.

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