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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explicitly honest account from top war correspondent
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...
Published 16 months ago by mark mckay

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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 combatant, and of course, a journalist has the words and resources to alleviate the complex mix of guilt and horror. The problem I had and have is the "knowingness". Bowen frequently makes...
Published on 15 Aug. 2010 by A. J. King


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explicitly honest account from top war correspondent, 4 Jan. 2014
This review is from: War Stories (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. Being a father held precedence over furthering his career and he found solace in playing a role in his children's lives.

In the end, he says he had to choose. After all, war reporting is not an action movie. The explosions, the bullets and the deaths are all far too real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War stories, 7 Mar. 2013
By 
David Rowland - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War Stories (Paperback)
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
By 
R. Sampat "Ravin" (Camden Town) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: War Stories (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
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This review is from: War Stories (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 25 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: War Stories (Kindle Edition)
An insight into the macho world of war reporting and the lengths reporters will go to in furthering their careers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars War stories Jeremy Bowen, 17 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: War Stories (Kindle Edition)
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.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read., 3 April 2007
This review is from: War Stories (Hardcover)
Like the previous reviewer I throughly enjoyed this read and he has described its contents perfectly. I have always liked Mr Bowens reporting especially from the Middle East and this book gives a great insight into how he started and rose to the top of his career. Very easy too read, it is a great insight into the process and progress of news reporting and a great insight into recent global conflicts with a birds eye view. Highly Recommended.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disingenuous, 15 Aug. 2010
By 
A. J. King "ajking22" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: War Stories (Paperback)
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 combatant, and of course, a journalist has the words and resources to alleviate the complex mix of guilt and horror. The problem I had and have is the "knowingness". Bowen frequently makes reference to the journalist's dilemma of objective reporting versus humanity and compassion, but whenever he is honest enough to state that yes, perhaps a war correspondent is guilty of feeding an inner need as well as doing a job, before we the reader can digest the argument Bowen inevitably jumps in to let us know that actually it isn't his fault and no he didn't "actually" kill anyone, and this happens more than once. It is clear that danger is like a drug but Bowen doesn't acknowledges that there is a difference between his job and the poor infantryman (or civilian) who has no choice but to be there. Bowen feels guilt at having put his Lebanese friend into the place where he was then killed by Israeli tankfire but before we the reader can sympathise and perhaps excuse or forgve, Bowen himself jumps in to remind us "of course I didn't actually fire the gun.....(and so actually I am not guilty at all) etc etc").
Ultimately this becomes distasteful. Bowen did not go to several wars for the sake of humanity - he went because he became addicted to the thrill and excitement (yes and danger) of it. Readers can be glad that we have better news reporting because of journalists like Jeremy Bowen, but he was there because he loves it and could not stay away. In the end I found myself wanting him to shut up reminding me about how guilty he feels and I started wondering about the poor cameraman whose job is often more dangerous still, or the local driver who has to feed his family with the BBC's dollars and I wanted to remind him that the compulsion that drove him to go back time and again is his and his alone. Yes he is a brave man, braver than me, but my final reaction from this book is that while this may be a good insight into war reporting, Bowen needs to can the self pity and man up a bit.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The human face of war reporting, 20 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: War Stories (Hardcover)
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. Unlike John Simpson, who invariably skips over civilian suffering in the countries he visits (concentrating mostly on the background politics, the action at hand, the BBC, or the shortage of fine wines in whichever hotel we have paid for him to stay in!), Bowen tells us about the people. About how they cope, how their lives have been changed by conflict and, even more surprisingly, how it makes Bowen feel.

That was an eye-opener for me after reading other war correspondents' books and wondering if they were all really as cold as they seemed to be on paper.

Bowen is a man wracked by a form of guilt at being a reporter observing the torment of others, but he is also, still, determined that reporters should try their damnedest (is that a word?) to get as much information as possible back to the British public, despite being censored and shadowed by foreign "minders", and despite what the BBC's editors think we *ought* to be seeing.

Interesting also to read of the pressure that was put on the BBC by the US and UK governments after Bowen insisted on reporting the true facts of a bunker of Iraqi civilians who were bombed and killed by the US. Scary to think it probably happens a lot, but glad to hear that the BBC stood their ground and supported Bowen at the time.

Highly recommended.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembrance of Wars Past and Present, 31 Jan. 2007
By 
Jason Parkes (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War Stories (Hardcover)
I've always liked Jeremy Bowen, possibly due to the excellent moustache he once had and that he was quite an amiable presenter on the BBC's Breakfast News programme in the years when I watched it. He's probably quite well known as that bloke who pops up with fellow news team presenters to perform cringe worthy cover versions for charity - I felt bad when I saw him playing bass in a Bond-karaoke medley. I wondered if it was the fact he is the Middle East editor and the terrible attack on the Lebanon by Israel had occurred recently. That and I probably have no sense of humour?

Bowen is more interesting than cheesy charity shows and Dickie Davies style `taches, his book on the Six Day War was excellent and the BBC documentary he did on news reporters in war zones was extremely disturbing and interesting in equal measures. `War Stories' is the biographical extension of that BBC documentary , opening in 2000 as Bowen's colleague Abed Takkoush was killed by the IDF as Israel left Lebanon. This event and impending fatherhood made Bowen reconsider his addiction to war reportage and send him to the entertainment side of the news world many probably know him from. Looking at the photographs from war zones in the centre of the book, or the many names this book is dedicated to, you are reminded how dangerous this work is and how the journalists, crew members and fellow colleagues put themselves in great danger to bring us news. I'm glad they are willing to take such risks, since the embedded notion of journalism the US military seem to prefer has the whiff of propaganda, a lack of independence, and isn't the kind of journalism we're used to in this country. It should be noted that this book is partly dedicated to ITN's Terry Lloyd, who was covering the Iraq War in the same style he always had (& Bowen does throughout this book), and ended up getting killed in dubious circumstances by the US military. If you thought the meticulously staged opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan was "real", you really should read this book...

Following the prologue, Bowen takes us back through his journalistic life - from his roots within the BBC's training course , which surprisingly reveals Bowen to be flawed (admitting many mistakes) and a bit uncertain - until it all clicked and he found himself at home in a war zone. We're taken through major events and wars since the late 1980s, from Bowen's initial work in El Salvador to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and onto more disturbing events in the former Balkans in the 1990s (as well as partly the Iraq War of 1991, though Bowen was apparently not selected amongst the primary list of journalists to cover that). Bowen's memories of reportage from the former Yugoslavia are extremely disturbing, the place sounding like hell on earth - sad that the civilised world decided to do nothing while things like Srebrenica occurred. It was interesting to read Bowen's take on David Owen regarding the problems of the Balkans, since we don't usually get journalists' opinions in the balanced world of the BBC. Bowen did apparently provide evidence for human rights trials relating to acts carried out in the former Yugoslavia.

Bowen also covers the Lebanon in the 1990s and another failed Israeli military campaign `the Grapes of Wrath' - Lebanon is key, from the prologue to the 1990s sections, through to the final chapter centring on Israel's excessive attack on Lebanon, which sent the country back decades, made the premiership of their West-friendly leader less certain, made Hezbollah popular, took over a 1000 lives, maimed people, and left behind a malicious mass of cluster bombs that have lead to censure in a US report to Israel (though we must remember that the US were the primary backer of Israel's actions, along with the UK - tellingly against the rest of the world). This book is extremely up to date, like Robert Fisk's epic The Great War Against Civilisation.

The story is not over yet, and Bowen's addiction to war and interest in the Middle East isn't over either. I think this is an interesting book and an autobiography people should read - anyone with an interest in history or war should probably read this book, though am not sure it matches something like Joan Didion's Salvador or some of the books on Rwanda. So not exactly Anthony Beevor, but a breeze to read (despite the bleak subject matter), and a personal account of events that are international and usually only seen through the TV screen. Highly recommended.
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War Stories by Jeremy Bowen (Hardcover - 10 April 2014)
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