Embedded: The Media At War in Iraq: An Oral History


"The interviews crackle with immediacy." -The New York Times

"It is my hope that this outstanding piece of work will reach the widest possible distribution and readership." -Dan Rather, CBS News, on the John Burns interview

EMBEDDED is a collection of deeply emotional and highly personal accounts of covering the Iraq War. Many of the world's top war correspondents and photographers speak candidly about life on the battlefield. Here are articulate and heartfelt descriptions of fear and firefights, of bullets and ...

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"The interviews crackle with immediacy." -The New York Times

"It is my hope that this outstanding piece of work will reach the widest possible distribution and readership." -Dan Rather, CBS News, on the John Burns interview

EMBEDDED is a collection of deeply emotional and highly personal accounts of covering the Iraq War. Many of the world's top war correspondents and photographers speak candidly about life on the battlefield. Here are articulate and heartfelt descriptions of fear and firefights, of bullets and banalities, of risking death and meeting deadlines.

With over sixty interviews conducted in Kuwait and Iraq shortly after many returned home, Katovsky and Carlson allowed these journalists to step outside their professional role as journalists and examine the lethal allure of combat reporting.

Here is CBS Evening News correspondent Jim Axelrod discussing the perils of racing to Baghdad while despondent over the death of a television colleague and being unexpectedly comforted by ABC News Nightline's Ted Koppel; Newsweek reporter Scott Johnson unwittingly driving into an ambush and then kicking out the windshield of his bullet-riddled car to escape the Iraqi gunmen; New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns's brave refusal to be intimidated by his Iraqi information ministry minders; and many, many more.
Each interview in EMBEDDED maps its own personal path and narrative arc, while presenting an emotional window to war and reporting. Taken individually, each offers a unique view of the most-covered war in history. Collectively, EMBEDDED is an eyewitness to history that will do for the war in Iraq what Michael Herr's Dispatches did for Vietnam.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
While there is nothing new about journalists traveling with military units (Ernie Pyle died while covering action during World War II), the war in Iraq saw an unprecedented number of correspondents "embedded" with the troops (vs. the hundreds more who covered the war as "unilateral," or unembedded, reporters). In this oral history, Katovsky (formerly with the Brookings Institution) and Carlson (senior correspondent for Inside Triathlon) record the interviews they conducted in April, May, and June 2003 with dozens of reporters, photographers, military public affairs officers, Iraqi citizens, a peace activist, and the handler of a bomb-sniffing dog. What is most interesting from a journalistic standpoint is that these reporters are free here to describe and quote military personnel more accurately than they could for newspapers or television. This collection evokes comparison to Studs Terkel's The Good War, but unlike Terkel, the authors made no attempt to organize these diverse impressions coherently. While far from cohesive, the book does include some compelling accounts of life in a war zone and the concomitant obstacles to effective reporting. Recommended for journalism collections.-Susan M. Colowick, Timberland Regional Lib., Tumwater, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592285495
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.66 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

BILL KATOVSKY lives in northern California.

TIMOTHY CARLSON lives in Colorado.

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Read an Excerpt

The Moral Compass of Iraq—-New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns
"Every lie tells you a truth."
There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the Ministry of Information, and particularly the director of the Ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, playing him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family. And giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the Information Ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror. And in one case a correspondent who actually went to the Internet Center at the Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories —mine included—specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Charging into Bad-Guy Country with Custer: Detroit News Reporter John Bebow 1
Covering Wars Takes Her Far from Home: San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer Anna Badkhen 11
The Race to Baghdad: CBS Evening News Correspondent Jim Axelrod 21
Dodging Death: Voice of America's East Africa Bureau Chief Alisha Ryu 29
Doing Good Deeds with the Devil Docs: CNN and Time Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta 33
Groundhog's Day at CENTCOM's Media Center: New York Magazine Media Critic Michael Wolff 39
"My Marines": Orange County Register Columnist Gordon Dillow 45
The Fixer: Hasan Aweidah, aka PJ 55
Beyond Good and Evil: CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf 59
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Washington Times Chief Photographer Joe Eddins 65
Media Gatekeeper and Troubleshooter: U.S. Army Colonel Guy Shields, Public Affairs Officer 73
War-Gaming with Lieutenant General William Wallace: USA Today Reporter Steve Komarow 79
Death in the Afternoon: El Correo and Telecinco Correspondent Mercedes Gallego 85
Hello to All That: U.K.'s News of the World Reporter Chris Bucktin 89
It's Deja Vu All Over Again: GLOBE TV Executive Producer and ABC News and Nightline Correspondent Mike Cerre 93
Capturing the War's Most Memorable Image: Time Magazine Photographer Yuri Kozyrev 103
Back to Baghdad: CNN International Correspondent Nic Robertson 107
Once a Marine, Always a Marine: San Francisco Chronicle Reporter John Koopman 111
Truth vs. Beauty: Montreal Freelance Photographer Robert J. Galbraith 123
Where the Boys Are: Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville, Tennessee) Military Reporter Chantal Escoto 127
The Birds and the Bees and a Pest Named Geraldo: KSTP-TV (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Reporter Dean Staley 133
Sorry, No Room Service at Saddam's Presidential Palace: Los Angeles Times Staff Writer David Zucchino 141
Ambushed on the Highway: Philippines TV (ABS-CBN) Correspondents Eric Tulfo and Maxie Santiago 151
The Moral Compass of Iraq: New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns 155
Boys in the Bradley: San Francisco Chronicle Reporter Carl Nolte 165
Reporting from the Trenches: CBS News White House Correspondent and Weekend Anchor John Roberts 171
Trapped in the Media Crossfire: Al Jazeera Correspondent Amr El-Kakhy 179
They Fight. We Report. You Decide. Fox News Reporter Rick Levanthal 185
Trying Not to Go Deaf on the Gun Line: Boston Globe Reporter Scott Bernard Nelson 193
Semper Fido! On Duty to Sniff Bombs: CENTCOM's Jocko 201
The Birth of Embedding as Pentagon War Policy: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Bryan Whitman 203
The Hemingway Legacy: Kansas City Star Staff Writer Matt Schofield 209
War Junkie: BBC News Special Correspondent Ben Brown 217
High-Tech Desert Rats: Wired Reporter Josh Davis 223
The Checkpoint Killing: Washington Post Reporter William Branigin 229
What Romance Aboard the War Boat? Jerusalem Post Reporter Janine Zacharia 235
On the Road with Unilaterals: Los Angeles Times Translator and Driver Mohammed Fahmy 241
Mishandled by His Iraqi Minders: New York Times Staff Photographer Tyler Hicks 245
Absurdity of War: British Lieutenant Colonel Robert Partridge, Public Affairs Officer 253
"All is Vanity": Los Angeles Times Reporter Geoffrey Mohan 257
My First War: Newsweek Reporter Kevin Peraino 265
Making the Media Feel at Home: Sergeant Major Carol Sobel, Public Affairs Officer 269
Going Live: CNN Correspondent Martin Savidge 273
The Arab Perspective: Abu Dhabi TV Correspondent Amir Al-Mounaiery 283
Marriage Under Fire: Washington Post's Moscow Bureau Chiefs Susan Glasser and Peter Baker 287
Measuring the True Cost of War: Peace Activist Marla Ruzicka 299
Going from Ground Zero to the Ground War: Newsday Reporter Graham Rayman 305
View from ACross the Pond: BBC News Special Correspondent Gavin Hewitt 311
The Disembed: Harrisburg's Patriot-News Washington Reporter Brett Leiberman 317
The Sound War: National Public Radio Correspondent Eric Westervelt 323
Our Warrior Youth: Rolling Stone Reporter Evan Wright 329
Sharp Shooters: Combat Cameraman Staff Sergeant Ronald Mitchell 341
Maintaining a Family Legacy: Fox News Producer and Reporter Maya Zumwalt 347
The Fallujah Incident: London Daily Mirror Reporter Chris Hughes and Freelance Photographer Julian Andrews 353
Crossing the Journalistic Divide: Atlanta Journal-Constitution Military Affairs Reporter Ron Martz 357
Lending Assistance to a Dangerous Profession: Committee to Protect Journalists' Michael Massing 371
Choosing the Right Target: CBS News Cameraman Mario DeCarvalho 379
The Ping, Ping, Ping of Bullets Hitting My Car: Newsweek Reporter Scott Johnson 389
Appendix Department of Defense Embedment Manual 401
Notes and Acknowledgments 419
In Memoriam 421
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2004

    I Helped Write the Book!

    I had the honor of helping to transcribe the original tapes the authors had me and a Marin County word-processor (LaserGirl WP) put together. The accounts from the war zone were compelling and I found the published work to be accurate. The editors did a great job in putting this all together into a coherent form. Highly recommended. :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    Embedded ist gut.

    In the book entitled 'Embedded', Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson have put together some of the most interesting and intriguing stories of the embedded reporters who saw war first-hand. There are over twenty different accounts told by many promising reports either of the United States or Europe or the Middle East. Though all of the stories were well written a few of the selections were a bit on the wordy side. But all-in-all the book is very easy to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2003


    This was the worst book that I have read in a long time. The book was not well thought out and it was just thrown together.It did not give me a discription of what went on at all, this book is a rip-off DONT BUY IT.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2003

    A Behind the Scenes Story on Modern War

    Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq is one of the first oral histories of the second Gulf War from the viewpoint of the reporters who saw it with the combat troops. Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson conducted 60 interviews with many of the top reporters who covered the war. They included reporters from other countries including Arab representatives from Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV. What emerges is a heart-felt, gut wrenching first-hand perspective on the war in Iraq. As much about the experience of modern warfare as reporting on the war, Embedded accomplishes what Michael Herr¿s classic Dispatches achieved during the Vietnam era. The U.S. military reversed it policies controlling the media during the first Gulf war. Selected reporters were allowed to cover the war ¿embedded¿ with American forces. This allowed those reporting the news unparalleled access to the action, often becoming caught up in events or even crossing the line as active participants. Several reporters were killed in action and others in accidents. Some chose to carry weapons while others hired bodyguards. Sanjay Gupta, a medical correspondent and doctor, put down his pen and paper to help operate on terribly wounded Iraqi casualties. Gupta commented, ¿Yes there was criticism. Yes, there was a question of journalistic integrity. Yes, there was a question that I crossed the line. My opinion was that crossing the line would have been not doing anything.¿ The book uncovers ethical questions in the ever faster moving digital world where news and imagery reach audiences almost instantly. In some cases, photos of wounded Americans were released before relatives were notified by the military. A few reporters were escorted out of Iraq for leaking sensitive information. There is increasing difficulty, as technology improves, to keep ethical standards in reporting news as reporters and editors are faced with covering the real story vs. protecting classified or sensitive information. U.S. Army Col. Guy Shields commented, ¿ With the media being instantaneous ¿ live coverage from the front ¿ you would see the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was real time¿. You could not put any spin on what the embeds were putting out.¿ What strikes the reader is the sanitization of editing that occurred between the battlefield and the six o¿clock news. As in the first Gulf war, the military wished to protect public opinion by concealing the more brutal aspects of killing. In the same token, reporters often refused to write about or photograph Iraqi casualties simply because they knew their editors would refuse to publish such ¿negative¿ material. The book gave the reporters a chance to express their reactions to witnessing U.S. firepower unleashed. John Bebow of the Detroit News wrote, ¿I don¿t think there is any way that any American, civilian journalist or military person in Iraq felt anywhere near what the Iraqis felt¿ The capacity that we have to kill is chillingly efficient.¿ This book provides an evocative, hands on view of modern war. It is a must-read for anyone in journalism or interested in America¿s involvement in the Middle East. The authors were given the chance to express their candid opinions on the war and their experiences in Iraq. Most of the news we receive has to be 'news worthy' to keep ratings high. I learned much more reading how these writers interacted with average Iraqis - stories that would never have made the six o'clock news. I think in years to come people will regard this book as an important contribution on the history of American involvement in the Middle East, on journalism, and how technology is changing our lives.

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