The following chapters come from the book You Can’t Print That! The truth behind the news, 1918-1928. written by war correspondent George Seldes and published in 1929. As mentioned previously on this blog Mr. Seldes played a key role in helping Bennett J. Doty avoid the death sentence for deserting the Foreign Legion in 1926. This is his account of how he came Syria to seek out the Foreign Legion because as he says “where the Foreign Legion is today the big battle will be fought tomorrow.” It provides a seldom seen account of the situation in Syria at this time and many colorful details about the Legion and the fighting at Mousseifré. Toward the end Seldes explains how he came to meet Legionnaire Doty and what he did upon learning about Doty’s death sentence for desertion. Chapter I gives a nice snapshot of the causes and background (according to Seldes) to the Syrian conflict of the mid 1920’s.
George Seldes was an interesting and controversial character. He lived to the very ripe age of 104 and was the champion of questioning the press reporting (he was most often on the outside of the press club looking in) and official government information. To many budding reporters he was a rebel who took on the establishment powers and stuck up for the little guy but also like many reporters of this time he was a dupe and fell for many of the lies and falsehoods of Stalinist communism. Eventually he was given some peer recognition for his contribution to journalism in 1980 and then published an autobiography, Witness to a Century, in 1987. He passed away in 1995.