About Sebastian Junger
Sebastian Junger is the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of WAR, The Perfect Storm, A Death in Belmont and Fire. He is also the acclaimed director of the documentary films Restrepo and Korengal. As a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and as a contributor to ABC News, he has covered major international news stories and has been awarded the National Magazine Award and a SAIS Novartis Prize for Journalism.
Junger’s newest book entitled Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, takes readers on an investigation of the experiences of veterans and proposes that a major cause of pain is not being at war but coming home. We all have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding -“tribes.” In Tribe, Junger demonstrates how this tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society. He examines PTSD as a side effect of soldiers leaving the close bonds they’ve formed in their military platoons and returning to a disconnected modern society and argues that regaining a sense of closeness may be the key to our psychological survival.
Junger’s critically acclaimed documentary Restrepo, co-directed with photojournalist Tim Hetherington, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary and received the 2010 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Restrepo documents the war in Afghanistan by reporting from soldiers’ perspectives. Its massive success inspired Junger to produce Korengal, which highlights the psychological effects soldiers must overcome during deployment and the emotions they are afflicted with when returning home.
In Spring 2017, Junger’s latest documentary feature, entitled Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Culled from nearly 1,000 hours of stunningly visceral footage, the film explores some of the horrific conditions that refugees commonly flee from, and show their humanity and courage in the face of physical threats as well as a largely hostile political environment. Junger captures the Syrian war’s harrowing carnage and socio-political consequences while painting an alarming picture of the West’s role in the creation of ISIS.
As an award-winning journalist Reporting on the war from the soldiers’ perspective, Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington spent weeks at a time at a remote outpost that saw more combat than almost anywhere else in the country. This resulted in his best-seller WAR, as well as Restrepo. Hetherington was later killed while covering the war in Libya. Following his untimely death, Junger returned to Park City, Utah to debut the film, Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, with high commendations at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Junger created this film in honor of Hetherington’s original vision to capture stories that would broaden viewers’ perceptions of war, and serve as a remembrance for his humanity and courage. Realizing the dangerous risks frequently taken by freelance photographers and reporters, Junger was motivated to start Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC), an organization that provides medical training for journalists in war zones, to commemorate the death of the acclaimed photographer. “Tim wanted to change the world,” Junger recalls, “But he also wanted the world to change him” (New York Times). ”
Junger became a fixture in the international media when, as a first-time author, he commanded the New York Times best-seller list for more than three years with The Perfect Storm, which became a major motion picture starring George Clooney.
His reporting on Afghanistan in 2000, profiling Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, became the subject of the National Geographic documentary Into the Forbidden Zone. In 2001, his expertise and experience reporting in Afghanistan led him to cover the war as a special correspondent for ABC News and Vanity Fair. His work has also been published in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, and Men’s Journal. He has reported on the LURD besiegement of Monrovia in Liberia, human rights abuses in Sierra Leone, war crimes in Kosovo, the peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, wildfire in the American West, guerilla war in Afghanistan, and hostage-taking in Kashmir. He has worked as a freelance radio correspondent during the war in Bosnia.
Junger is a native New Englander and a graduate of Wesleyan University. Attracted since childhood to “extreme situations and people at the edges of things,” Junger worked as a high-climber for tree removal companies. After a chainsaw injury, he decided to focus on journalism, primarily writing about people with dangerous jobs, from fire-fighting to commercial fishing (which led, of course, to The Perfect Storm).
In 1998, Junger established The Perfect Storm Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities for children of people in the maritime professions.
Junger has testified before Congress regarding veterans’ affairs on numerous occasions.