Jakub Szántó (b. 1977) is a journalist and television reporter. He graduated from the Institute of International Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University in Prague, and also studied at the Central European University in Budapest. Since 1999 he has worked as a television reporter. In 2005 he was awarded a PhD. in Modern History. He reported on foreign news for TV Nova and since 2006 has worked for Czech Television. Since July 2013 he has been Czech Television’s permanent Middle East correspondent. He has focused primarily on the Middle East and Africa, where he has covered a large proportion of international crises; prior to that he also covered the Chechen War, the Georgian-Russian War, piracy in Somalia and the revolution in Ukraine. Between 2003 and 2016 he regularly contributed to the weekly magazine Reflex. Szántó is the holder of the 2014 Open Society Fund Prague’s Journalism Award and the 2017 Ferdinand Peroutka Award for journalism.
TOP CZECH LITERARY AWARD – READERS’ CHOICE (2019)
October 2018, 260 pages
Available material: English sample
The debut work by the war correspondent and Czech Television reporter in the Middle East.
Jakub Szántó offers an insider’s detailed account of his experiences as a war correspondent in various corners of the Earth and different types of military conflicts and revolutions. He is professionally dedicated to his work, but he recalls his experiences in a personal, rather than objective, way. The dramas of front lines, child and juvenile soldiers, famine, destitution and the pain of war or revolution are presented vividly by an eyewitness who spent 20 years of his life experiencing them. The book is valuable not only as a personal testimony but also as a glimpse into the work of a war correspondent, a journalist in situations it is impossible to prepare for. As a history graduate, Szántó is also able to set the events he has observed and experienced in their historical context. The tragedy of the events related is softened by humour and irony. The book includes an extensive section of the author’s photographs from the field.
“An unusual insight into the life of a reporter who risks his life and deliberately heads into danger at a time when the work of a journalist is risky in itself. Szántó’s effort to be in the thick of it and find out what is really going on is invaluable at a time when some politicians are proclaiming alternative facts.”
“Szántó unveils and demystifies the work of journalists in the midst of turbulent situations and unpredictable developments.”
“Fuck, drive smoothly! I don’t want them to think they’ve got a reason to shoot at us!” I yell from the passenger seat at the technician, Michal Rydval. “If you want to get out, I’ll stop for you! I mean, they’re shooting at us.” Smack, smack, vzoom. It’s coming from the right, from my side. The bullets hit the asphalt and whirr past the car. Individual shots. Most likely a sniper, so probably an Israeli soldier. Ratata, tatata. That’s coming from the left, from Michal’s side. It must be a Kalashnikov, so that’ll be a Palestinian.”