Marie Colvin: Maker of Myths

By Maughan, Philip | New Statesman (1996), June 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Marie Colvin: Maker of Myths


Maughan, Philip, New Statesman (1996)


When the journalist Marie Colvin died, on 22 February 2012, in the besieged Baba Amr district of the Syrian city of Homs, she was carrying a backpack containing basic supplies: a change of underwear, two satellite phones--and a weighty black box with a 387-page manuscript inside.

Since crossing illegally into Syria eight days earlier, Colvin had dragged the box through a two-mile sewer and hurled it over a barbed-wire fence. It was buried with her, for a short time, in a garden close to the building in which she and the French photographer Remi Ochlik died during shelling by the Syrian army. When her body was exhumed for repatriation to her native Oyster Bay, New York, the box came with her. Marie's sister Cathleen set about looking for the author, Gerald Weaver, a man Marie first met at a Yale University party 37 years earlier.

"She had this ride of curly brown hair, like Ava Gardner," Weaver recalls when we meet at a hotel bar on Park Lane in London. "She was always bold, jumping into ponds not knowing what was underneath, or running through cemeteries at night." Colvin joined the Yale Daily News during her third year, but unlike her student colleagues she had no interest in ascending the editorial ranks. "She just wanted to be a reporter," Weaver says. "In a way, she didn't have any of their petty ambitions. But, in another way, she was far more ambitious. 'I want to throw myself in head first,' she told me. 'I want to be a star.'"

After stints with a truck drivers' union magazine and working as a New York police beat reporter while living in the West Village--"a needle-strewn, horrible place back then", Weaver adds--Colvin moved to Paris to become bureau manager for United Press International. Weaver married (someone else) in 1981. After almost a decade of "exclusive moments", the couple drifted apart. …

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