23 NOVEMBER 1991, Page 37

Michael Davie

Two books this year suggest that old- fashioned straight reporting, when the story takes precedence over the opinions or Personality of the writer, is still the best: John Lahr's profile of Barry Humphries, Which would cheer up most people over Christmas (Dame Edna Everage, Blooms- bury, £14.99) and Stephen Sackur's On the Basra Road, an unblinking troubled account of what he saw and heard as a BBC radio reporter during and after the Gulf War (London Review of Books, £4.95).