PCS Blog

Photojournalist and Author Paul Watson

Posted by KellyC | 24 September 2012

The Body of An American explores the life of war reporter Paul Watson, who captured a series of photos in 1993 that would change his life. What he witnessed on the streets of Mogadishu would win him a Pulitzer Prize and give eyes across the world a startling and gruesome image of one American soldier’s tragic ending. It would also forever haunt Paul Watson. Here we learn a bit more about this courageous journalist and his book Where War Lives.
 
Please note: some links in this post lead to photos that are graphic in nature.
 
Born in 1959 in Weston, Ontario, Watson became a photojournalist for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper. He eventually moved on to The Los Angeles Times. While working for this newspaper he was based in Jakarta as the South Asia bureau chief, covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iraq.
 
In July of 2009, he left this position and returned to the  Toronto Star, where he currently covers Afghanistan and the Arctic-Aboriginal beat as a multi-media reporter.
 
Watson was awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography (now named the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography) for the image he took in Mogadishu during the civil war in Somalia. This photo, taken for the Toronto Star, depicts a U.S. soldier’s body being dragged through the streets by Somalis. It was after the release of this photo that President Clinton pulled out of the pursuit of Aideed and gave orders for the withdrawal of troops from Somalia by March of 1994.  
 
Other awards that Watson has received include three National Newspaper Awards (International Reporting 1993/1996, Spot News Photography 1993), the 1993 Robert Capa Gold Medal, and the South Asian Journalist’s Association’s Daniel Pearl Award.
Released in August of 2007, Watson’s book Where War Lives was named one of the “year’s 100 most notable books” by The Globe and Mail of Toronto. The book takes readers on an intimate and graphic tour of the frontlines of war, and makes a powerful and haunting stop in Somalia, where Watson captured the famous images. Here are a few excerpts from the synopsis of Where War Lives:
"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… 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."

 


Want your own copy of Where War Lives? You can order it here from Powell’s Books!

 

 

 

Comments (0)

There are no comments for this entry yet.

Join the conversation!

Portland Center Stage welcomes your comments and criticism.

We invite you to share your comments with us on our Facebook page.

Ticketing

For current and upcoming shows, please see our Season Calendar.


Sign up for the PCS email list.

Season Sponsors

Accessibility