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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 02:32 GMT
Polish reporter Kapuscinski dies
Ryszard Kapuscinski
Kapuscinski became a foreign correspondent in 1962
Poland's most celebrated journalist and non-fiction writer, Ryszard Kapuscinski, has died in Warsaw, aged 74, after a heart operation.

He made his name in Africa in the 1960s, where he was the Polish Press Agency's only correspondent.

He wrote widely on wars and dictators, chronicling the last days of Ethiopia's Haile Selassie and the Shah of Iran.

He also wrote books on the fall of the Soviet Union, Angola's civil war and politics in Central America.

Born in Pinsk, now in Belarus, in 1932, he studied history and worked as a reporter in Poland during the 1950s, giving him material for his first book, The Polish Bush.

Sent abroad in the early 1960s, he was given the job of covering Africa single-handed for the Polish press, travelling widely across the continent and reporting on a number of wars.

"I could not only go wherever I wanted, but it was my job to go wherever I wanted: if there was trouble, I was meant to be there to see it."

He also reported from countries in Asia and South America, witnessing 27 coups or revolutions in all and was sentenced to death four times.

From 1974, he wrote for the weekly Kultura, a period during which he began to gain an international reputation for his books The Emperor, on the fall of Haile Selassie, and Shah of Shahs, about the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

He also wrote The Soccer War, an account of the six-day war between Honduras and El Salvador sparked by a football match.

His final book, Travels with Herodotus, came out two years ago. He also published several volumes of poetry.

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