One Crowded Hour by Tim Bowden. It’s a bible I carry around with me on my travels in Southeast Asia, where most of the biography is centered around.
As I was escaping a terrorist attack in Southern Thailand which I wrote about in Garuda’s Travels, it was the same location where Neil Davis’s good friend and fellow cinema photographer Joseph Lee lost his leg on a landmine during the communist insurgent movement of the 70’s. Now it’s a Muslim insurgent movement. Lee survived and filmed the stump of his leg as he was being flown back to Bangkok for treatment. His Thai soundman wasn’t so lucky.
I’ve been to some of the Cambodian towns that Neil Davis was documenting skirmishes between the Cambodian Royal Army and the Khmer Rouge. I’ve traveled down Highway 4 where his Korean friend Joseph Lee had been kidnapped by the communist forces. Sean Flynn and Dana Stone disappeared on the same highway. They weren’t so lucky like Lee, and never returned home.
I’ve passed a killing field on the way to the Parrot’s Beak on a trip into Vietnam. Davis had predicted this would happen.
I’ve traveled to the Tasmanian island and his hometown and paid my tribute to Neil Davis while reading the earlier chapters of his life in this Australian classic.
I’ve visited Jakarta where Neil Davis covered the rise and fall of Sukarno and the bloody massacre of 1963. I’ve been to the town in East Bali where Davis wrote about the Balinese who beheaded communist members for just being a disruptive element in their community. It was the Balinese’s modest contribution to the over 500 000 people who were killed in that year.
I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur where in the 60s; Davis saved Chinese Malay hostesses who were stranded in a Karaoke bar, while outside Malays were killing and looting the Chinese community.
I even visited the office of the FCCT in Bangkok and spoke to a Thai female secretary who knew and spoke fondly of Neil Davis. I also tracked down a fellow journalist and good friend of Davis, and spoke to him over $20 beer in a plush hotel Jakarta. He didn’t tell me anything new that wasn’t in the book.
I’ve even done a website on One Crowded Hour for a communication course, and yes, I did get a pass.
I’ve probably even visited a few brothels he use to frequent. Now that’s dedication.
I’ve not visited the radio tower in Bangkok where Davis died in a ‘bloodless’ coup in 1985. Now that would be taking it a bit too far.
Yes, I’ve invested some time in the book and it’s really a good read.