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Sebastian Junger Gives Up Front-Line Reporting: "I don't want to risk my life covering a mistake"

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood June 10, 2011 at 5:02AM

Sebastian Junger has been doing the book circuit for the paperback release of his book, War. The LA Times reports that the author and documentarian (who co-directed Oscar-nominated Restrepo with the tragically killed photojournalist Tim Heatherington) is through with covering the front lines:"I'm not going to do any more front-line reporting, because I don't want to put my wife through what I went through with Tim..It was a very obvious thought to come to in the wake of all this. Tim's death made war reporting feel like a selfish endeavor."
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Thompson on Hollywood


Sebastian Junger has been doing the book circuit for the paperback release of his book, War. The LA Times reports that the author and documentarian (who co-directed Oscar-nominated Restrepo with the tragically killed photojournalist Tim Heatherington) is through with covering the front lines:

"I'm not going to do any more front-line reporting, because I don't want to put my wife through what I went through with Tim..It was a very obvious thought to come to in the wake of all this. Tim's death made war reporting feel like a selfish endeavor."


Of reporting from war zones so far, Junger says:

"I thought it couldn't happen to me, and I'd never known anyone who had got killed — couple guys that got shot. You know, there's a lot of denial. I mean, denial works." He also believes there are 'good' wars and 'bad' wars: Afghanistan = good, Iraq = bad, and he doesn't "want to risk my life covering a mistake."

Junger also tries to explain the lure of war as one of the "master narratives" of a man's life:

"Look at the cave paintings in France. What do they show? They show the game animals that they've hunted — a form of warfare, in a way, violence. They show warfare, they show men fighting each other. They show fertile females. I mean, what topics preoccupy men? You want to look into the male brain? It's like, OK, I need to kill game, I need to sustain myself— basically, career. Conflict and combat, manliness and proving yourself. Hot chicks. And the final one is shamanism, connection to the divine. That comprises the entirety of what's on the walls of the caves in France. That's the male brain, that's human society in a lot of ways."

Here's the LA Times' excerpt from Junger's book, which is divided into three sections: War, Killing and Love.

And here is Junger's tribute to Heatherington.

This article is related to: Directors, Genres, Books, Obit, Documentaries


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.