Little Bunch of Madmen: travel tips from a war correspondent

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“Always keep in mind the basic rule: no story is worth your life,” writes Mort Rosenblum in his excellent Little Bunch of Madmen: Elements of Global Reporting. The Rapid Traveler heard Mr. Rosenblum’s interview on The Monocle Weekly and dove into the book.

Though much is naturally devoted to journalism, and perhaps too much naval-gazing about the future of the industry for outsiders, there is lots to benefit travelers. He writes of the tension over safety:

If you take every sensible precaution to its logical extreme, you might as well stay at home. But if you don’t do what you should to report safely, you are nuts. This is a life-and-death conundrum, and each of us has to define our own rules.

Jon Lee Anderson is consulted for his tips, and he opens with the importance of developing and trusting a sixth sense:

The more you know, the more you have lived outside of your culture and gotten to know other ones, the safer you will be.

The discussion continues:

Some guidelines help in conflict areas. For instance, never go down the road if you don’t see peasant farmers or villagers around. “If no one is on the road, you’re in trouble,” Anderson said.


Americans, particularly, should be wary of exhibiting any sense of entitlement. “We’re big, we’re brash, and we tend to think our wealth protects us. These days, it does everything but that. It is very important to have all your senses open, to be circumspect, watchful, friendly. The main thing is to try to blend in.”

The next installment will include highlights from the chapter “Road Kit.”

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