Kurt Pitzer on Confronting Death in the Field

Kurt Pitzer is a former commercial longline fisherman and relief worker who has reported from many of the world's turbulent regions, including the Balkans, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He was embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq, then jumped his embed as Baghdad fell. He met Dr. Mahdi Obeidi soon afterward and helped him go public with Saddam Hussein's remaining nuclear secrets. He and Obeidi cowrote The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind, which was published in paperback in September 2005.

  • Transcript


Pitzer:    You see a lot of corpses and dead people while covering war, and it’s, you know… You never become accustomed to it.  It’s never something that is not shocking.  And it’s always personal, because you can’t just sort of push it away that somebody else… It’s a faraway culture. This is a place I’m covering.  It doesn’t…  It’s just something that I’m writing about.  You know, it is personal.  You’re there.  And often, you’re there with people who knew the people who have been killed, you know?  And I’ve had people hand me the bones of their family members, trying to give me, you know, teach me something about their fallen family members, or burned and dead and executed family members, you know, trying to make that connection.  If you hold my father’s bone, you will understand him and be able to tell his story.  And it’s a terrible, it’s a terrible responsibility, but one that you’re there, and that’s why you’re there, and you have to sort of try to rise to it.