Part memoir, part reportage, Louder Than Bombs is a story of music from the front lines. Ed Vulliamy, a decorated war correspondent and journalist, offers a testimony of his lifelong passion for music. Vulliamy’s reporting has taken him around the world to cover the Bosnian war, the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Communism, the Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003 onward, narco violence in Mexico, and more, places where he confronted stories of violence, suffering, and injustice. Through it all, Vulliamy has turned to music not only as a reprieve but also as a means to understand and express the complicated emotions that follow.
Describing the artists, songs, and concerts that most influenced him, Vulliamy brings together the two largest threads of his life–music and war. Louder Than Bombs
covers some of the most important musical milestones of the past fifty years, from Jimi Hendrix playing “Machine Gun” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 to the Bataclan in Paris under siege in 2015. Vulliamy was present for many of these historic moments, and with him as our guide, we see them afresh, along the way meeting musicians like B. B. King, Graham Nash, Patti Smith, Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, and Bob Dylan. Vulliamy peppers the book with short vignettes–which he dubs 7″ singles–recounting some of his happiest memories from a lifetime with music. Whether he’s working as an extra in the Vienna State Opera’s production of Aida,
buying blues records in Chicago, or drinking coffee with Joan Baez, music is never far from his mind. As Vulliamy discovers, when horror is unspeakable, when words seem to fail us, we can turn to music for expression and comfort, or for rage and pain. Poignant and sensitively told, Louder Than Bombs
is an unforgettable record of a life bursting with music.