Feature

Author of the week: Sebastian Junger

Sebastian Junger won’t be back on the front lines anytime soon, said Reed Johnson in the Los Angeles Times. Following the death of his friend and collaborator, photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who was killed in a mortar attack while covering the Libyan conflict in April, the author of War and The Perfect Storm says he’s through putting himself in the line of fire. “I don’t want to put my wife through what I went through with Tim,” says Junger. “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. I thought it couldn’t happen to me, and I’d never known anyone who had got killed. You know, there’s a lot of denial. I mean, denial works.”

For now, Junger’s old sense of denial has been replaced by guilt, said Mac Engel in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s survivor’s guilt. People always imagine they could have affected the outcome,” Junger says. “We were sup­posed to be together in Libya. In all probability we would have been doing together what he was doing on his own.” He’s been consoled by messages from the soldiers he and Hetherington covered while making the 2010 documentary Restrepo, in Afghanistan. “Some of the most emotional messages were from the guys in the platoon. And the death of any of those guys would have been the same for us.” Though he doesn’t intend to put himself in a combat zone again, Junger says he’ll still report on conflicts. “Stories in the Middle East,” he says. “Nothing where I can get shot at.”

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