Orwell accounts the whole sordid mess in the wondrous Homage to Catalonia, one of the best first-hand accounts of the Spanish Civil War. For those interested, this is the war that, if the powers in Britain, France, and the U.S. had gotten involved in it, would have prevented World War II, because it would have crippled Hitler's and Mussolini's war machines before they even got built. As it was, it provided a perfect training ground for them to prepare for the invasion of Poland and France three years later.
It was during World War Two that Orwell started to write his column As I Please. As the title suggests he was given carte blanche to write about anything and everything with no suppression of his opinion.
Whether it was criticism of the Soviet Union, or the behaviour of American soldiers in London, reviews of books, or observations about daily life during the war, they are fascinating to read for the picture generated of a very specific time in history. The work during that period is the forerunner of the modern columnist in style and format. Wide ranging, provocative, and thought-inspiring, they were what are attempted with various degrees of success today by anybody writing an op-ed piece.
What separated and continues to separate Orwell from the rest of the pack was his breadth of knowledge and experience. Few people alive now can hope to match in a life-time what he had achieved to that point: Served as police man in Burma, fought in Spain, lived as a down-and-out with the working poor to better document their lives for a book, worked as an interviewer for the BBC, and published three novels, The Road to Wiggen Pier, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, and Down and out in London and Paris
A life such as that could not help but formulate an innate sense of social justice. His exposure to the poor, colonial oppressed, and people willing to die for their freedom ensured that he would always speak out against inequity no matter whose feathers he ruffled. Remarkably, no matter what he said his work was never censored, widely-criticized maybe, but always printed.
What he would have thought of the quality of our press currently, their willingness to censor themselves by being embedded and hand-fed pool reports, is easy enough to guess. One only need look at the disdain he held for the "jingoists" who simply parroted government statements as gospel without question and called it news, to fathom the contempt he would have held current standards of reportage.