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War Stories [Paperback]

Jeremy Bowen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 July 2007
Having joined the BBC as a trainee in 1984, Jeremy Bowen first became a foreign correspondent four years later. He had witnessed violence already, both at home and abroad, but it wasn't until he covered his first war -- in El Salvador -- that he felt he had arrived. Armed with the fearlessness of youth he lived for the job, was in love with it, aware of the dangers but assuming the bullets and bombs were meant for others. In 2000, however, after eleven years in some of the world's most dangerous places, the bullets came too close for comfort, and a close friend was killed in Lebanon. This, and then the birth of his first child, began a process of reassessment that culminated in the end of the affair. Now, in his extraordinarily gripping and thought-provoking new book, he charts his progress from keen young novice whose first reaction to the sound of gunfire was to run towards it to the more circumspect veteran he is today. It will also discuss the changes that have taken place in the ways in which wars are reported over the course of his career, from the Gulf War to Bosnia, Afghanistan to Rwanda.


Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (2 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743449681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743449687
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

`This is the story of a love affair that went wrong. It isn't
over. It still has its moments and it might go on for many more years. But
it will never be what it was when it started.'

Jeremy Bowen is not talking about a woman. He was in love with a job:
addicted to reporting wars. `It sounds a little sad, and in a way it was,
though it was also compelling and passionate and fun and it never felt like
work. I have written this book because many people have asked me why
journalists risk their lives to go to war. The answer is complicated, and
different people have their own reasons. But these were mine.'

From joining the BBC as a trainee in 1984, Bowen quickly rose through the
ranks to become one of the Corporation's most recognisable faces, a
mainstay of news bulletins as he reported from the front lines of various
hot-spots around the world. From his first war in El Salvador in 1989, he
has covered wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Rwanda, among other places,
and worked extensively in the Balkans and the Middle East throughout the
1990s, including reporting the First Gulf War from Baghdad.

In 2000, however, everything changed. The violent death of a close
colleague and the birth of his first child made Jeremy re-assess his
hazardous occupation, and ultimately decide that he owed it to his growing
family to do something less dangerous. But the fascination remained, and in
this riveting memoir he attempts to come to terms with his own infatuation
as well as exploring the uncomfortable truth of the job - that as a war
correspondent, for you to have a good day, someone else has to have their
worst day.

Candid and compelling, War Stories charts the progress of a young novice
whose first reaction to the sound of gunfire was to run towards it to the
more circumspect veteran he is today. It is also an extraordinarily
gripping account of some of the late twentieth century's most divisive
conflicts, and a thought-provoking insight into how technology has changed
our attitude to breaking news. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jeremy Bowen is Middle East Editor for the BBC and has covered the majority of breaking news and stories from the Middle East since the 1991 Gulf War. He is the author of two previous books: Six Days and War Stories.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
War Stories is Jeremy Bowen's explicitly honest account of becoming hooked on what he calls `the war drug' while working as a foreign correspondent for the BBC.

Bowen joined the BBC in 1984. His big break was covering the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 which provided the stepping stone to his first assignment in war-torn El-Salvador in 1989 where Bowen had his first hit of the war drug.

For the first time Bowen was close enough to the action to get killed. It was the first time he heard the whizz-snap sound of a bullet passing inches from his head. But he found it hard to realise the bullets and the dangers posed to him were real. After surviving his trial by fire Bowen claims the experience was exciting, as though he was staring in an action movie.

Bowen has covered conflicts in El-Salvador, Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya and Lebanon. The majority of his coverage focuses on the human aspect of war, about how civilians who are caught up in conflict are affected and how war irreversibly changes lives.

But, reporting in this fashion took a heavy toll on his conscience and throughout the book Jeremy advocates a stark and clear message: For a journalist reporting from a war zone to have a good day somebody else must have a very bad day.

In Lebanon in 2000 the risks foreign correspondents face were brought to the fore. While doing a piece to camera Bowen's driver was killed when an Israeli tank blew up their car. Machine gun fire had Bowen pinned down and he was unable to reach his stricken friend.

After this, Bowen began to realise the lack of power he held over his own fate. The birth of Bowen's daughter meant he now had a greater responsibility to his family than to reporting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War stories 7 Mar 2013
By David Rowland TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have admired Jeremy Bowen's television reports of warfare from El Salvador in 1969 to Lebanon in 2006 and his more recent reports particularly from the Middle East. His book is vivid, enthralling and thought provoking and as he admits in his memoirs that earlier in his journalistic career he was a war junkie when it came to reporting conflicts all over the world. He loved the thrill of flying off to war zones, dodging bullets and mixing with other war addicts who were equally hooked and all this really turned him on for many years. Bowen says his addiction changed on 23 May 2000, when his close friend and colleague, Abed Takkoush met with a violent death in war torn Beirut and when his first child was born he reassessed his life and decided to do something a little less hazardous.

Bowen's book reads like a novel at times, it is fast moving, funny in places and certainly a book you cannot put down once you have started reading it. It is candid, honest and self effacing and I strongly recommend it to you as a description of one man's role in reporting conflicts in the late twentieth century in Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Balkans and the Middle East.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read 10 July 2007
Format:Paperback
Jeremy Bowen, like his journalistic traits, writes this excellent book that nobody would be able to put down. i really cannot recommend this enough. i bought this book at Gatwick Airport last week whilst on my way to a 4 day holiday. i finished it in 2..!

Bowen's writing skills are definetly well worked, and he shows his ability to take the reader on his enchanted journey with great descriptions of his experiences in Sarejevo, Lebanon, Jersualem etc etc.

My favourite chapter occurs whilst in Afghanistan..his description of engagements with the Afghan Mujahadeen during the 1980's is so vivid and interesting.

not everybody may like Bowen's book, but judging by the last two reviews, i think its fair to say this book is a must read for anybody interested in journalism, living life to the max, war, peace, politics, and Jeremy Bowen!

if anyone likes Jeremy's journalistic style as the BBC's Middle East editor, you almost feel the famous moustache of his everytime you turn a page! this book is as important a book for current affairs and international relations then any academic book.

i also recommend his book Six Days, which analysis the 1967 Arab Israeli War.
enjoy.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if you care about what goes on in this world 8 Jun 2008
Format:Paperback
I thought this book was excellent.
I was already interested in the coverage of news before reading it, having grown up with reading newspapers and watching TV news;I'm from a family with a journalistic background myself.
However I think this book would be great for anyone that is interested in the way things really are in this world; the recent history of wars in both the Middle East and in Europe,and in how vitally important it is that we see good news coverage of it.
Jeremy Bowen doesn't try to sanitise anything or pull his punches, and thank goodness for it; you get the human side of the conflicts he has covered.
Without news journalists and photographers prepared to put their lives on the line to cover whats really happening in the world, especially in areas of war and /or oppression (and many have lost their lives doing it),all we'd have would be hearsay and political spin.
I found this book to be a riveting read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As expected
Published 14 days ago by B. Prabhu
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
An insight into the macho world of war reporting and the lengths reporters will go to in furthering their careers.
Published 11 months ago by Neil Greenwood
5.0 out of 5 stars War stories Jeremy Bowen
Excellent book very desritpive not only of war zones but his reaction and need for the excitiment of being under fire in the front line. Should be compulsory reading in schools.
Published 14 months ago by Marmite
2.0 out of 5 stars BBC Anti Israel Bias laid bare
Political bias within the BBC is well established and widely accepted by many BBC staff privately but this book confirms the bias which many of us have seen and felt over many... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Darrell Monteith
4.0 out of 5 stars The human face of war reporting
The further I got into this book the more I realised how deeply and personally affected Jeremy Bowen was by the stories he was reporting. Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2010 by Juno
2.0 out of 5 stars Disingenuous
The further I got into this book the more annoying it (and Bowen) became. Yes this book is a catharsis, and yes, a war correspondent is as susceptible to post traumatic stress as a... Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2010 by A. J. King
4.0 out of 5 stars No wonder he didn't present breakfast telly for long
Where do you start with this book? Firstly it's a psychiatrist's dream: an obsession with war zones, suffering, crimes against humanity etc. Read more
Published on 11 May 2008 by Caterkiller
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but preferred John Simpson
I came to this on the back of having enjoyed similar tomes from John Simpson. Bowen's book makes an enjoyable read, and his tales of Sarajevo and Afghanistan tell of a man... Read more
Published on 14 Dec 2007 by Craig Worth
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of sorrow
This book will undoubtedly captivate you. Other reviewers have accurately portrayed the contents of the book but I feel that they have missed the point when doing so. Read more
Published on 25 Nov 2007 by ReviewMan
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