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Front Lines and Headlines: A PEN Panel on Covering War

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Five top war correspondents and writers talked about what motivates their work, as well as the role of the journalist in modern conflict, as part of a PEN World Voices Festival panel held at Le Poisson Rouge.

Sebastian Junger and Daniele Mastrogiacomo viewed the front lines from opposite sides — Junger as an embedded reporter, Mastrogiacomo as a prisoner of the new Taliban. Arnon Grunberg, author of Blue Mondays, brought his absurdist sensibility to the coverage of military tactics, while Philip Gourevich talked about what happened at Abu Ghraib, and Deborah Amos discussed how a Sunni Diaspora is altering the Middle East.

Using the audio player above, listen to the full conversation.

Bon Mots
Highlights from the event. Download the full audio above.

On Abu Ghraib: "I think what I try to understand in certain ways in my writing…is how human inhumanity is." —Philip Gourevich

On Being Embedded: "The amount of trust I gained with them was absolutely extraordinary, and, personally, I found it to be a great honor that they felt that way about me." —Sebastian Junger

On Absurdity: "We all know Catch 22, and we are used to certain absurdities…the world [in Afghanistan] was even more absurd than I could think of." —Arnon Grunberg

On Journalists Being Pressured: "I never understood that now we had an obligation to tell the 'good' news, as opposed to the 'bad' news — I thought our job was to tell the news." —Deborah Amos