cover image On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist

On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist

Clarissa Ward. Penguin Press, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-56147-7

Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, recounts her life in journalism in this insightful memoir. Ward grew up in a well-to-do family in New York City and London and attended Yale; after watching the 9/11 attacks on TV, she found a “sense of purpose and clarity” and knew she “had to go to the front lines.” Her career began as a desk assistant for Fox in 2003, from there she worked for CBS, ABC, and finally CNN, where she focused heavily on the Middle East. She conducted much of her reporting covertly and during combat, and she details her often harrowing experiences that eventually took a toll on her physical and mental well-being. She survived the 2005 attack on the Fox headquarters in Baghdad; escaped a violent crowd of Han Chinese, who, after beating a group of Uighur men, turned to the reporters present; and smuggled memory cards containing images of the Arab Spring protests out of Syria in her underwear. But it’s the connections she made with the civilians that really tell the story of these war-torn regions and demonstrate an empathy that makes Ward’s work so accessible, as when she sings to a room of Muslim women during a heavy shelling attack. Along the way, Ward shares some anecdotes such as meeting Quentin Tarantino as a stand-in on the set of Kill Bill, and meeting Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif at a dinner party in Moscow in 2007. Ward surprises in this affecting insider view of international reporting. (Sept.)