The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true.James Branch Cabell
Ryszard Kapuściński (1932 - 2007), the most popular Polish journalist and writer.
- Amin didn't treat his enemies as ideological adversaries-only as a physical threat.
- We all cooperated, all of us, East and West, regardless of country, because the working conditions were really terrible.
- Aesopian language was used by all of us. And of course, using this language meant having readers who understood it.
- We always moved in groups from one coup d'etat to another, from one war to another.
- We have such a mixture now, such a fusion of different genres.
- Amin hid nothing. Everybody knew everything. Yet the American Senate only introduced a resolution breaking off trade with Amin three months before his overthrow.
- When I went to Kampala, my colleague in Addis Ababa reminded me to take a light bulb along with me. This was helpful advice since there were no light bulbs in the whole of Kampala and the entire city was engulfed in darkness.
- Without Amin nothing functioned, nothing existed.
- When I started writing Imperium, I had a problem with my conscience, because if I wrote strictly from the point of view of this Polish experience, the book would be completely incomprehensible to the Western reader.
- With time Amin fell into a mania of suspicion and he saw enemies almost everywhere. So he carried out repressions and he himself never spent the night in the same place twice.
- Whiskey was something which was absolutely marvelous, because there was nothing: no cigarettes, no food. This was a group of highly specialized people. They were real Africanists.
- Even though you can destroy a man, destroying him does not make him cease to exist. On the contrary, if I can put it this way, he begins to exist all the more. These are paradoxes no tyrant can deal with. The scythe swings, and at once the grass starts to grow back. Cut again and the grass grows faster than ever. A very comforting law of nature. (attributed to an anonymous Iranian in Shah of Shahs, Vintage International edition, p. 32)
- It is authority that provokes revolution....This occurs when a feeling of impunity takes root among the elite: We are allowed anything, we can do anything. This is a delusion, but it rests on a certain rational foundation. For a while it does indeed look as if they can do whatever they want. Scandal after scandal and illegality after illegality go unpunished. The people remain silent...They are afraid and do not yet feel their own strength. At the same time, they keep a detailed account of the wrongs, which at one particular moment are to be added up. The choice of that moment is the greatest riddle of history. (Shah of Shahs, Vintage International edition, p. 106)
- The experience was an exciting one for me. It illustrated that writing was about risk—about risking everything. And that the value of the writing is not in what you publish but in its consequences. If you set out to describe reality, then the influence of the writing is upon reality. (A 1989 interview with Granta magazine founder Bill Buford. Reprinted in Adbusters Magazine #71.)