(John) Anketell Brewer Swain
is an award-winning British
journalist and writer who was portrayed by Julian Sands in the 1984
Oscar-winning film The Killing Fields.
He was born in London, England in 1948.
After an unhappy education at Blundell's School in Devonshire, from which he was
expelled, he ran away to join the French Foreign Legion an experience that he
briefly recounts in his 1997 memoir River of Time.
Having escaped from the clutches of the Foreign Legion through the influence
of his godfather who was a close friend of the French ambassador to the Court of
St James, Swain embarked upon a career as a newspaperman.
Early jobs included his workmanlike coverage of the trial of the infamous
Kray crime family. After a period of work in Continental Europe Swain embarked
for Saigon in the late 1960s to cover the Vietnam War.
In 1975 Swain caught the last commercial flight into Phnom Penh, the
beleaguered capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia. It was there that he witnessed
the fall of the city to the Maoist Khmer Rouge in the company of Dith Pran and
Sydney Schanberg - events portrayed in the Roland Joffé film The Killing Fields.
Saved from murder by the courage of Pran, Swain, Pran, and Schanberg took
refuge in Phnom Penh's French Embassy. There they tried unsuccessfully to rescue
Pran by doctoring Swain's British passport so that it appeared to be Pran's.
Having escaped back to Europe Swain's next brush with death occurred when he
was kidnapped and held hostage for several months by Eritrean Separatists whilst
covering the revolution and civil war in Ethiopia. For his accounts of this and
his Cambodian experiences Swain received numerous awards.
For many years Swain was the Sunday Times's correspondent in Paris. During
this time he had many famous scoops including uncovering the financial support
extended by Libya's Colonel Gaddafi's to Arthur Scargill's National Union of
Mineworkers and the links between Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National and
the Romanian dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu.