True Lies by Anthony Lappé and Stephen Marshall with Ian Inaba (Penguin), 278 pages, $20 paper. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
In the eyes of the alternative press, years of controlling what the public reads and watches have made major U.S. news outlets complacent and lazy. Even big stories like the September 11 attacks and the war in Iraq are rolled out as works-in-progress that lose their importance and impact as facts get lost amid spin and powerful pictures.
True Lies is a gonzo book of investigative journalism by the writers and filmmakers of the Guerrilla News Network. In a breezy, often first-person style, Anthony Lappé and Stephen Marshall take you to places that have dominated the news and tell you stories they say the big media missed.
The book is populated by people whose lives speak as loudly as their words. In an Iraqi graveyard for tanks, many destroyed by depleted uranium (DU) shells, GNN interviews metal scavengers who know they may die from the radioactive scrap they collect. One metal scrapper says he risks cancer because "it's work."
One of the book's strongest chapters deals with depleted uranium, the low-level radioactive armour-piercing ammunition that has left a legacy of horrifying sickness in Iraq.
To show the impact DU had on allied troops in the Gulf, the authors cite the tragic case of Terry Riordan, a Canadian soldier who died at 45. After his death, his body was found to contain high levels of depleted uranium. His case, which should have made headlines, never got on the radar of the American media.
Not everyone will agree with the conclusions GNN draws from its investigations, but there's no denying its journalists work hard at their craft.
Though True Lies probably could have used another edit, it's a good example of alternative media at its mischievous best.