No ‘hand’ puns, thank you

December 12, 2003
By

A Time reporter has one less hand after trying to toss a live grenade out of a humvee in Iraq. The photographer with him took on some shrapnel.
Background on the reporter, Michael Weisskopf, who was on his second trip to Iraq:

Veteran Post reporter David Maraniss, a longtime friend of Weisskopf, called him “a great, fearless reporter with a wonderful, sarcastic sense of humor. He never met a person he didn’t give a nickname to. He delights in characters.”

This almost seems like an invite to crack wise, but I’m going to pass.

The photographer, James Nachtwey, sounds like one of those people they make movies about. Turns out he is:

Nachtwey is a famed combat photographer who has worked in many of the world’s most troubled regions, including Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, Chechnya and Kosovo.



As a result, he has been “in situations which are chaotic and unpredictable and incredibly violent, and I am with people who are much more experienced than I am and they get killed,” he recounted in an interview with The Post three years ago. Sometimes, he said then, his survival is “sheer luck. And sometimes I think I have a guardian angel looking over me.”



Nachtwey was the subject of a documentary in 2001 called “War Photographer” that was nominated for an Academy Award. Earlier this year, he was awarded a $1 million Dan David Prize for his work documenting “the apocalyptic events of our time.”

Looks like his luck is holding. One thing you can be sure of about combat photographers: a billion dollars wouldn’t keep them away from a war zone.

It is interesting to note that when given a choice between maintaining neutrality and getting fragged, Weisskopf opted for the latter. The first obligation is to live long enough to report the story, though I don’t think the story was large in Weisskopf’s mind when he had a live grenade in his hand.

To revisit the photographer, an observation: how is it that they always manage
to get so close to the big stories? Note this picture Nachtwey took on Sept. 11, 2001,
as the first tower was collapsing. From the angle of this shot it looks like
the building’s damn damn near coming down on top of him. The great ones have
this uncanny knack for staring death in the face, then ducking.

nwachtwey.jpg

See more of Nachtwey’s photography here. His work is amazing.


Buy your favorite newsie a Weisskopf book for Christmas here.
My favorite title: “Tell Newt to Shut Up : Prize-Winning Washington Post Journalists Reveal How Reality Gagged the Gingrich Revolution.”

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