24 July, 2021

Burning Ambition

John F. Burns, NYT's man in New Delhi, already has tow Pulitzers, and is looking for his third in India.

Burning Ambition

MORE than three decades ago a young John F Burns approached the news-editor of an Ottawa daily and asked him for a job as a reporter. The summer jobs he listed on his curriculum vitae included tree-cutting and private construction. "Have you done any writing at all?" the news-editor asked him. "No," answered Burns. The news-editor called his editor to share the oddity that Burns seemed to represent. The editor took one look at Burns and said: "Well, let's give him a week's trial without presumption."

Burns survived that trial, graduating from local to national and then to international reporting. Posted for the last three years in New Delhi as the New York Times correspondent in South Asia, Burns shot into the news last fortnight when he won the Pulitzer prize once again--his second in five years--for excellent reports from Afghanistan during the early days of the Taliban rule.

The first story he filed--datelined September 29, '96, Islamabad--described how even Pakistan, the main supporter of Taliban, was shaken by the student militia's brutality. On...

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