Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy of Sri Lanka Hard Cover.
(Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 1992)
Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy of Sri Lanka Hard Cover.
It is one of the best books ever written on nationalistic, racial and religious conflict. With his deep and harrowing portrait of this Asian drama, William McGowan introduces us to the world we will live in if common sense, rationality and high human values do not prevail. A great, impressive and sound book.
—Ryszard Kapuscinski, author of Shah of Shahs, The Emperor, Another Day of Life
Only Man Is Vile: The Trajedy of Sri Lanka Soft Cover.
(Picador 1993)

Sri Lanka has long fascinated Western travellers with its tropical languor, spiritual traditions, and Raj Era allure. But beneath the superficial gentleness of the landscape and people, a complex struggle over questions of ethnicity and nationalism has turned the 'Island of Dharma' into another Lebanon.

William McGowan has lived and travelled in Sri Lanka extensively over the years that span many different phases of the conflict there, and the result is this compelling account of a society consumed by the implacable hatreds of race and class, the brutalities of political violence, and the quest for national identity.

William McGowan.

Critical Acclaim

McGowan has "a shrewd eye for details and a quick understanding of complexities..... In an era when many outsiders have been taken in by simplistic  explanations of right and wrong, Mr. McGowan is anything but naive."
New York Times Book Review
Notable Books of the Year 1992

"An important book, full of lively reporting and insightful observations. As a study of how politically inflamed ethnic tensions can destroy a nation, it ranks with the best."

"A gripping, first-rate mixture of travelogue, history and hard-edged reporting. ...McGowan's memorable prose captures the noise, passions and violence of a country that seems bent on destroying itself."
Publishers Weekly * (starred review)

"McGowan  is a good listener, a careful reporter and a sensitive observer…"
The Washington Post Book World

"Mr. McGowan has a gift for literary travel writing in the Graham Greene tradition."
The Wall Street Journal

An "excellent book".
The Economist

"McGowan is a deft writer with a keen eye for observation... He provides a fascinating account of the war's tragic, mounting equation."
Foreign Affairs

"A well-told and depressing account… an impressive book. McGowan is a forthright witness who never lets simple moral distinctions blind him."
The New Statesman

"McGowan’s journalism is exhaustive...This opus is bound to find a place on the list of must-reads on the subject."
Far Eastern Economic Review

William McGowan is the author of Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy of Sri Lanka (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Coloring The News: How Political Correctness Has Corrupted American Journalism (Encounter Books) for which he won a National Press Club Award in 2002. A former editor at the Washington Monthly, he has reported for Newsweek International and the BBC and has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Columbia Journalism Review and many other national publications. A regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, he has been a frequent commentator on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, NPR, Court TV as well as other cable and broadcast networks. A former Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, he is currently a Media Fellow at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center. He lives in New York City.

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