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Listen to Sir Don McCullin on Journeys to Roman Asia Minor

Blog | By Amelia Milne | Oct 18, 2023


The legendary Sir Don McCullin is introduced by Barnaby Rogerson who co-wrote this book with William Dalrymple. Barnaby came to meet Don through The Oldie. They have done eight journeys together and this is their second book together. Barnaby added captions and helped put the book together. He calls himself Don's 'footnote'.

Don is somewhat of a 'babe magnet' even though he is 88. His blue eyes sparkle knowingly. Don is one of England's natural gentlemen. War journalism is tough and you feel the strength of where he came from with his perfect manners.

Barnaby quoted a few lines from their mutual friend William Dalrymple: 'Beauty in wreckage, savouring of elegy and loss, a sense of requiem, dark and remote, moody and atmospheric' William is describing the photographs, but also Don's career as a war journalist. The only war journalist to have an exhibition at The Tate welcomed by The Royal Family. He has worked with Bruce Chapman, Mark Shand to name but a few.

In 1973 in Algeria, Don was taken to see a Roman temple after a failed mission to cheer them up, and this was the inspiration for this very special book.

Don said he was very sad to hear about the conflict in the Middle East. All those years, he said, and there still hasn't been a chance for those people to live in peace side by side for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Don said he wouldn't go into details on what he had seen. He went back to Somerset forty years ago where he had once been evacuated. He took photographs of the landscape in the winter. People asked why? He said it looked like a war zone. He would stand on the hills. Deep down inside, he spent 60 years covering wars. He has had a whole lifetime of darkness. In his dark room, he plays classical music to try and come to terms with what he had seen. He has cured his anxieties. He wasn't depressed but he was quite angry about the ugly images of war. When you are in war, you see acts of great love. Men crying. One day in Vietnam he saw a medic who cured the wounded. He went to the aid of a soldier who died. He saw a black soldier crying. Those tears were real.

Don would come back to his normal life in England to his family. He was remote from his family though, as you could imagine. He was in the house but not in the house. He has been to every war that has happened except for Bosnia and Chechnya as he was expelled from the Sunday Times under the new Murdoch reign, which was probably fate and spared him.

He wishes he had been a landscape photographer instead or an archeaological photographer like his work with Barnaby.

Don says:

And even though I've made this age, I can hardly walk up the stairs and down the stairs without fear, and the bathroom by the way, I find the bathroom more dangerous than Vietnam.