What are the most important pieces of journalism in regards to war coverage?
June 9, 2011 7:05 AM   Subscribe

What are the most important pieces of journalism in regards to war coverage?

I am teaching a class this summer to gifted middle school students on representations of war and conflict throughout the 20th century. My background is in art history (mostly WWII era), so I've got a good handle on paintings, photography, film, graphic novels (we are doing Maus and Persepolis). However, I'm at a loss when it comes pieces of noteworthy journalism, which I'd like to incorporate as well. Similarly, we will be reading Mother Courage and Her Children, but I'd welcome other literature based suggestions, particularly those that deal with more recent conflicts. Thanks for you help!
posted by shrimpsmalls to Education (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Two from Esquire's top seven:

M, by John Sack (Vietnam)

The School, by C.J. Chivers (Beslan/Chechnya)
posted by djb at 7:11 AM on June 9, 2011


Can't help much, but I do know that John Hersey's Hiroshima is considered very highly in journalism (or something).
posted by Senza Volto at 7:13 AM on June 9, 2011


The Library of America has a some great compilations "Reporting World War II", "Reporting VietNam", all actual newspaper stories from the day things happened. This is an essential datapoint as far as teaching. Given they are middle schoolers, and maybe you dont want them thinking about why a guy is found dead holding his banjo on Omaha Beach, dig up some Bill Mauldin cartoons from WWII. A guy shooting his Jeep will be hilarious. They will remember that image their whole lives. If they ever find themselves soldiers later in life, they will understand it, and remember that you are the person who turned them on to it.
posted by timsteil at 7:18 AM on June 9, 2011


The Things That Carried Him, by Chris Jones (Iraq)

The Runaway General, by Michael Hastings (Gen. Stanley McChrystal)
posted by djb at 7:24 AM on June 9, 2011


Two to consider:

Vasily Grossman's war reporting (esp. his startling "The Hell Called Treblinka") is essential - he wrote some of the first and most important eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust, and of the major battles fought by the Red Army.

Michael Kernan's The Violet Dots is a unsettling - and unjustly forgotten - account of the long-term psychological suffering of WW1 veterans.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:44 AM on June 9, 2011


"On Their Own: Women Journalists and the American Experience in Vietnam" is extremely powerful, has harrowing stories and offers a perspective seldom heard.

I also recommend "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," which is memoir of (and critical analysis of) Chris Hedges' own war reporting.
posted by jeffmshaw at 7:56 AM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]




The book "Reporting World War II" is a two-volume anthology of contemporary repoting, most of it brief enough for classroom use (though it also contains excerpts from longer well-known pieces, too). I own it and love reading it.
http://www.loa.org/volume.jsp?RequestID=115
posted by wenestvedt at 8:28 AM on June 9, 2011


While not true reporter-in-the-field journalism per-se, the story of the release of the Pentagon Papers, and the history of the US involvement in Vietnam contained in them, is a watershed moment in contemporary war reporting, as it revealed the deep political mechanations behind the US' involvement in the conflict. The story of Daniel Ellsberg's journey from insider to the guy who blew the whistle is pretty interesting.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2011


Philip Gourevitch's We Regret To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed, about Rwanda.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:23 AM on June 9, 2011


Also, PBS doc. On war reporting. http://www.pbs.org/weta/reportingamericaatwar/about/
posted by Ideefixe at 9:25 AM on June 9, 2011


Edward R. Murrow's sobering account of the Buchenwald concentration camp (audio, transcript) is a landmark of postwar journalism.
We proceeded to the small courtyard. The wall was about eight feet high; it adjoined what had been a stable or garage. We entered. It was floored with concrete. There were two rows of bodies stacked up like cordwood. They were thin and very white. Some of the bodies were terribly bruised, though there seemed to be little flesh to bruise. Some had been shot through the head, but they bled but little. All except two were naked. I tried to count them as best I could and arrived at the conclusion that all that was mortal of more than five hundred men and boys lay there in two near piles.
Also, in the recent thread on the D-Day anniversary, Jinkeez linked to this amazingly immersive live war report from off the Normandy coast at the very start of the invasion.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:48 AM on June 9, 2011


While not true reporter-in-the-field journalism per-se, the story of the release of the Pentagon Papers, and the history of the US involvement in Vietnam contained in them, is a watershed moment in contemporary war reporting, as it revealed the deep political mechanations behind the US' involvement in the conflict. The story of Daniel Ellsberg's journey from insider to the guy who blew the whistle is pretty interesting.

The Most Dangerous Man in America
posted by AlliKat75 at 10:03 AM on June 9, 2011


Graham Peck's Two Kinds of Time on China's WWII and revolutionary war.
Eamonn McCann's War and an Irish Town about growing up in Derry in the early years of the 'Troubles'.
posted by Abiezer at 11:07 AM on June 9, 2011


This isn't too similar to what you've got up there, but for understanding war coverage during the 2000s "The Pentagon's Hidden Hand" is vital.
posted by Winnemac at 11:21 AM on June 9, 2011


For Vietnam: Dispatches by Michael Herr (a reporter for Esquire)
posted by mattbucher at 12:00 PM on June 9, 2011


These are amazing suggestions. Thank you!
posted by shrimpsmalls at 1:48 PM on June 9, 2011


How has Ernie Pyle not been mentioned yet?
posted by SisterHavana at 9:28 PM on June 9, 2011


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