Where War Lives

Publisher: Emblem Editions
A Pulitzer Prize — winning journalist takes us on a personal and historic journey from Mogadishu through Rwanda to Afghanistan and Iraq.

With the click of a shutter the world came to know Staff Sgt. William David Cleveland Jr. as a desecrated corpse. In the split-second that Paul Watson had to choose between pressing the shutter release or turning away, the world went quiet and Watson heard Cleveland whisper: “If you do this, I will own you forever.” And he has.

Paul Watson was born a rebel with one hand, who grew up thinking it took two to fire an assault rifle, or play jazz piano. So he became a journalist. At first, he loved war. He fed his lust for the bang-bang, by spending vacations with guerilla fighters in Angola, Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia, and writing about conflicts on the frontlines of the Cold War. Soon he graduated to assignments covering some of the world’s most important conflicts, including South Africa, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Watson reported on Osama bin Laden’s first battlefield victory in Somalia. Unwittingly, Watson’s Pulitzer Prize—winning photo of Staff Sgt. David Cleveland — whose Black Hawk was shot down over the streets of Mogadishu — helped hand bin Laden one of his earliest propaganda coups, one that proved barbarity is a powerful weapon in a modern media war. Public outrage over the pictures of Cleveland’s corpse forced President Clinton to order the world’s most powerful military into retreat. With each new beheading announced on the news, Watson wonders whether he helped teach the terrorists one of their most valuable lessons.
Much more than a journalist’s memoir, Where War Lives connects the dots of the historic continuum from Mogadishu through Rwanda to Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the Hardcover edition.


I was sitting in a friend’s room at the Grand Hotel [in Pristina, Kosovo], scanning the chill night sky through an open window when the air strikes started with the pinpoint timing of liftoff, bang on the hour of 8 p.m. on March 24, 1999. The first strike, from a bomb or a cruise missile, announced itself with a...
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National Bestseller

“He paints a pretty vivid picture of the violence, fear, grief and despair that is generated under wartime circumstances. . . . Watson is a natural storyteller, and he has one hell of a story to tell.”
Globe and Mail

“Reads like a bullet-pocked tour of some of the globe’s most wretched hellholes of the last fifteen years. . . . There are plenty of narrow escapes and grisly accounts of the killing fields here, as well as some criticism of U.S. and United Nations policy -- Watson knows of what he speaks. His point of view is from the front lines, not the editorial pages, and there is honour in that.”
Quill & Quire

“The release of his book is extremely timely since Canadians are currently embroiled in the controversial war in Afghanistan. . . . The book provides an excellent framework to consider the nature of war, the role of the media in shaping how we understand it, and the price we all pay for this information.”
Ottawa Xpress

Where War Lives is a breathtakingly compelling and candid account of Watson's career as one of Canada’s premier foreign correspondents. . . . The writing is edgy, sometimes chaotic and raw. It feels like you’ve jumped in for a bumpy ride with a war correspondent: You get the passenger-side view of the madness around you and the inside view of how journalists work and survive in humanity’s hellholes.”
– Montreal Gazette

“Beautifully written and pitilessly honest about the author’s life and line of work – and the role of the West in the world’s recent bloodbaths. . . . [it] will haunt readers (almost) as much as Cleveland haunts him.”

“[A] raw, wrenching memoir.”
Winnipeg Free Press

Where War Lives is one of the best pieces of journalistic field reporting that I have read in years. A compelling account, it ventures into that hazy area lived by war junkies who risk all in their attempt to cover the day’s news in an embattled world.”
- Owen Sun Times

“Gripping and courageous … This book is a thriller.”
Ottawa Citizen

From the Hardcover edition.