Tracy Dahlby is an award-winning journalist who has reported internationally as a contributor to National Geographic magazine and served as a staff correspondent for Newsweek and the Washington Post. In this memoir of covering a far-flung swath of Asia, he takes readers behind the scenes to reveal "the stories behind the stories"—the legwork and (mis)adventures of a foreign correspondent on a mission to be the eyes and ears of people back home, helping them understand the forces and events that shape our world.
Into the Field centers on the travel and reporting Dahlby did for a half-dozen pieces that ran in National Geographic. The book tours the South China Sea during China's rise as a global power, visits Japan in a time of national midlife crisis, and explores Southeast Asia during periods of political transition and tumult. Dahlby's vivid anecdotes of jousting with hardboiled sea captains, communing with rebellious tribal chieftains, enduring a spectacular shipboard insect attack, and talking his way into a far place or out of a tight spot offer aspiring foreign correspondents a realistic introduction to the challenges of the profession. Along the way, he provides practical advice about everything from successful travel planning to managing headstrong local fixers and dealing with circumstances that can range from friendly to formidable. A knowledgeable, entertaining how-to book for observing the world and making sense of events, Into the Field is a must-read for student journalists and armchair travelers alike.
Prologue: Something Like a Calling
Part One: Navigating the China Seas
Working the Coast
Plying the Waters
Part Two: Snapshots of the Island Kingdom
Hitchhiking in Kyushu
Reimagining Tokyo Bay
Japan's Magic Mountain
Part Three: Across the Floorboards of Asia
Living (Semi-)Dangerously in Indonesia
"Tracy Dahlby has produced a gem of a memoir that honors the craft of ‘long distance journalism’ and entertains us with his prodigious gifts as a storyteller. I have spent thirty years trotting the globe myself sniffing out stories from faraway lands, and I recognize a master foreign correspondent when I see one. Dahlby truly writes with the wisdom and sprightliness of Graham Greene or Bill Bryson, on a good day. . . . What he has written—to my ear—is a delightfully refreshing textbook on how to be a foreign correspondent."
John Burnett, award-winning NPR correspondent and author of Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions: Travels with an NPR Correspondent
"Into the Field is a wonderfully eloquent introduction to the craft and challenges of reporting from around the world. Just as important, it is also a powerful example of the enduring role of storytelling and well-chosen narrative, even as the technology of the news business continues to change."
James Fallows, The Atlantic
"Tracy Dahlby’s book is a delight. It’s a witty, probing, and insightful look at Asia through the eyes of a skilled veteran journalist. At the same time, it is a funny and profound primer on what journalists should be at their very best: curious, insightful, and expressive, with a willingness to embrace contradictions, gore sacred cows, and allow themselves and their readers to wander and wonder. Tracy reminds me of the quip at the beginning of Scaramouche, ‘He was born with a gift for laughter and a sense that the world is mad.’"
Alex Gibney, Academy Award–winning filmmaker