Sebastian Junger
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Sebastian Junger

Sebastian Junger
Junger in April 2013
Junger in April 2013
Born (1962-01-17) January 17, 1962 (age 56)
Belmont, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Author, journalist and documentary filmmaker
Language English
Alma mater Wesleyan University

Sebastian Junger (born January 17, 1962) is an American journalist, author and filmmaker famous for the best-selling book The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea (1997), his award-winning chronicle of the war in Afghanistan in the documentary films Restrepo (2010) and Korengal (2014), and his book War (2010).[1][2][3]


Junger was born in Belmont, Massachusetts, the son of Ellen Sinclair, a painter, and Miguel Chapero Junger, a physicist.[4][5] His father was born in Dresden, Germany, of Russian, Austrian, Spanish, and Italian descent; he came to the United States during World War II because his father had been Jewish.[4][6] Junger grew up in the neighborhood of the Boston Strangler, a circumstance that later inspired his 2006 book A Death in Belmont.[5]

He graduated from Concord Academy in 1980[7] and received a bachelor of arts degree from Wesleyan University in cultural anthropology in 1984.[8][9]

In 1997, with the publication of his book, The Perfect Storm, he was touted as a new Hemingway.[10][11] His work stimulated renewed interest in adventure non-fiction. He received a National Magazine Award in 2000 for "The Forensics of War," published in Vanity Fair, where he works as a contributing editor.[12] In early 2007 he reported from Nigeria on the subject of blood oil.[13] With the photographer Tim Hetherington, Junger received the DuPont-Columbia Award for broadcast journalism for his work on The Other War: Afghanistan, produced with ABC News and Vanity Fair, which appeared on Nightline in September 2008.[14]

His book War revolves around the time Junger spent with a United States Army platoon of the 173rd Airborne in Afghanistan.[15][16] Junger, along with Hetherington, used material gathered in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan for the book and to create a documentary feature Restrepo. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and won the Grand Jury Prize for a domestic documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. On April 27, 2011, Junger was presented with the "Leadership in Entertainment Award" by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) for his work on Restrepo.[17]

His most recent book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging was published in May 2016.

Personal life

Junger married Daniela Petrova in 2002. They divorced in 2014.[18][19] He lives in New York City and Massachusetts, and co-owns a bar in New York called The Half-King.[15][20]

Notable work

The Perfect Storm

He found fame after writing the international bestseller The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea. Published in 1997, it recounts the tale of the October 1991 "perfect storm" (in fact, the general use of the term originates from this book), focusing on the loss of the Gloucester fishing boat Andrea Gail off the coast of Nova Scotia and its six crew members, Billy Tyne, Bobby Shatford, Alfred Pierre, David Sullivan, Michael Moran and Dale Murphy.[21]

In 2000, Warner Brothers made the book into a film of the same name, starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.

At the time of the storm, Junger was recovering from a wound to the left leg that he suffered while working as an arborist in the Boston area (his chainsaw had torn into his leg).[22] He claims that while recovering from that injury, he was inspired to write about dangerous jobs. He planned to start with commercial fishing in Gloucester Massachusetts, a project that evolved into "The Perfect Storm".[23]

Junger established The Perfect Storm Foundation to provide cultural and educational grants to children across the country whose parents make their living in the commercial fishing industry.[24]

A Death in Belmont

A Death in Belmont centers on the rape and murder of Bessie Goldberg in Junger's hometown in the spring of 1963. From 1962 to 1964, the Boston area was gripped with fear as a result of the infamous Boston Strangler crimes. Junger received the 2007 PEN/Winship award for the book.[25] Although a different man was convicted, Junger raises the possibility that the real killer was Albert DeSalvo, who eventually confessed to committing several Strangler murders, but not Goldberg's. Goldberg's house was a mile and a quarter from the Junger family home, where Albert DeSalvo was doing construction work on the day Goldberg was killed. In fact, Junger stated in an interview that he grew up with a studio portrait of DeSalvo on his family's wall.[26]

The book includes a photograph that was taken one day after Goldberg's murder. It shows Junger as a one-year-old baby, sitting on his mother's lap; They are in the new room that had just been added onto their house, and standing behind them are the two contractors who had just completed its construction. Junger describes it thus:

Al and I are the only people looking directly at the camera, and whereas I have an infant's expression of puzzled amazement, Al wears an odd smirk. His dark hair is greased up in a pampadour, and he is clean-shaven but unmistakably rough looking, and he has placed across his stomach one enormous, outstretched hand. ... The hand is at the exact center of the photograph, as if it were the true subject around which the rest of have been arranged.

-- Sebastian Junger, A Death in Belmont[27]

Junger's book raises the possibility that Smith's conviction was founded on circumstantial evidence, and in part on racism, because the prosecution's narrative of Smith's day in Belmont was built on witnesses who remembered seeing Smith chiefly because he was a black man walking in a white neighborhood. Smith had cleaned the victim's house on the day in question and left a receipt (for his work) with his name on the victim's kitchen counter. There was no physical evidence, such as bruises or blood, linking Smith to the crime. In 1976, he was granted commutation of his life sentence; however, before his release, Smith died of lung cancer.[28][29][30][31][32]

In his final analysis in A Death in Belmont, Junger draws no conclusions about the guilt or innocence of Smith or DeSalvo. The victim's daughter has vigorously disputed Junger's suggestion that Smith might have been innocent.[29]


Fire is a collection of articles dealing with dangerous regions of the world or dangerous occupations. It is most notable for its chapter "Lion in Winter" in which Junger interviews Afghan Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir, a famed resistance fighter against first the Soviets and then the Taliban. Junger was one of the last Western journalists to interview Massoud in depth. The bulk of this interview was first published in March 2001 for National Geographic Adventure,[33] along with photographs by the renowned Iranian photographer Reza Deghati and video by cinematographer Stephen Cocklin.[34][35][36][37] Massoud was assassinated on September 9, 2001. Junger's portrait of Massoud gives one insight into how differently Afghanistan might have fared in the post-9/11 invasion had Massoud lived to help reclaim the country from the Taliban. Fire also details the conflict diamond trade in Sierra Leone, genocide in Kosovo and the hazards of fire-fighting in the Idaho wild.


Junger with Tim Hetherington in 2011

In 2009, Junger made his first film, the documentary feature Restrepo, as director with photographer Tim Hetherington. The two worked together in Afghanistan on assignment for Vanity Fair. Junger and Hetherington spent a year with one platoon in the Korengal Valley, which is billed as the deadliest valley in Afghanistan. They recorded video to document their experience, and this footage went on to form the basis for Restrepo. The title refers to the outpost where Junger was embedded, which was named after a combat medic, Pfc. Juan Restrepo, killed in action. As Junger explained, "It's a completely apolitical film. We wanted to give viewers the experience of being in combat with soldiers, and so our cameras never leave their side. There are no interviews with generals; there is no moral or political analysis. It is a purely experiential film."[38]Restrepo, which premiered on the opening night of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival,[39] won the grand jury prize for a domestic documentary. The actor David Hyde Pierce presented the award in Park City, Utah.[40] Junger self-financed the film.[41]Restrepo was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary.[42]


Medal of honor recipient Sgt. Salvatore Giunta beside President Barack Obama

The visits from June 2007 to June 2008 to eastern Afghanistan to the Korengal Valley with Tim Hetherington resulted not only in their reports and pictures published in Vanity Fair in 2008 and the film Restrepo (2010), but also in Junger's best-selling book War (2010),[3] which rewrites and expands upon his Vanity Fair dispatches.[43][44] Junger in War, tells the story of Staff Sergent Sal Giunta. His actions during the fighting in the Korengal Valley made him the first soldier to still be alive when receiving the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.[45]Time magazine named War a "Top Ten Non-fiction Book" of 2010.[46]

Which Way is the Front Line From Here?

Junger speaking at the LBJ Library, which screened Which Way is the Front Line From Here?

In April 2013, Junger's film Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, debuted at the LBJ Presidential Library. Produced in conjunction with HBO Documentary Films, it documents the life of Tim Hetherington, focusing upon his documenting the humanity of people caught up in war.


The 2014 film Korengal continues to follow the soldiers in Battle Company 2/503 during and after their service in the Korengal Valley.[47] The film takes a deeper look into the psychology of the men, who are deployed in the rugged mountains of the Korengal Valley. Junger sought to find out what combat did to, and for them, and seek a deeper understanding of why war is meaningful to them.[48] The film opened in June 2013 in theaters. It also played at the Pritzker Military Library and Museum, The Pentagon, Army Heritage and Education Foundation Center, Capitol Hill, United States Military Academy, The National Infantry Museum, Little Rock Film Festival, Key West Film Festival, and the DocuWest Film Festival.[49]

The Last Patrol

The last of the trilogy about war and its effects on soldiers, this documentary explores "what it means for combat soldiers to reintegrate into daily American life."[50] Junger recruited former US Army Sgt. Brendan O'Byrne, who appeared in the film "Restrepo," US Army soldier Dave Roels, and Spanish photo-journalist Guillermo Cervera to walk the rail corridor between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. The journey was planned as a tribute to deceased photographer Tim Hetherington.[48][51] The film premiered at the Margaret Mead Film Festival [52] and aired on HBO in November. The film played in theaters in NY, and Los Angeles, as well as at the Savannah Film Festival, and at SIFF in Seattle.[53][54]


In Tribe (2016) Junger studies war veterans from an anthropological perspective and asks how "do you make veterans feel that they are returning to a cohesive society that was worth fighting for in the first place?" Junger's premise is that "soldiers all but ignore differences of race, religion and politics within their platoon," and upon return to America, find a fractious society splintered into various competing factions, often hostile to one another.[55]

See also


  1. ^ "Sebastian Junger named Festival of Ideas Speaker". The Charleston Gazette. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. January 1, 2011. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved 2014.
  2. ^ "Sebastian Junger speaks about brotherhood at Davidson". The Herald Weekly. September 22, 2011. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ a b Buddo, Orville (June 12, 2010). "June's Political Best Sellers". The Caucus (blog of The New York Times). Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ a b Shnayerson, Michael (July 2001). "Sebastian Junger - After the Storm - Interview". National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on August 18, 2000. Retrieved 2001.
  5. ^ a b Wood, Gaby (April 16, 2006). "A writer with a nose for trouble". The Observer. Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ Cattell, Jacques (1977). American Men and Women of Science: Consultants, 1977. Jacques Cattell Press, R.R. Bowker Company. p. 404. ISBN 0835210170.
  7. ^ Drew, Bernard A. (2007). 100 Most Popular Nonfiction Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies. Westport: Libraries Unlimited. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-59158-487-2.
  8. ^ Junger, Sebastian (2001). Fire. Rockland, MA: Wheeler Pub. pp. dustjacket. ISBN 9781587241246.
  9. ^ "Sebastian Junger '84 Joins Returning Soldiers on Adventure Trips". Wesleyan University. Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (May 14, 2010). "Sebastian Junger Goes to 'War'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ "Cityfile: Sebastian Junger". 2008. Archived from the original on October 17, 2009.
  12. ^ Junger, Sebastian. "Sebastian Junger, Contributing Editor". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ Junger, Sebastian. "Blood Oil". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010.
  14. ^ Sun, Feifei (January 14, 2009). "DuPont Jury Honors Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2014.
  15. ^ a b "War, Another Book by the Best Seller Sebastian Junger". BuzzTab. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. May 12, 2010. Archived from the original on May 20, 2010. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ "Combat High". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010.
  17. ^ "IAVA to Honor Restrepo Directors Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington at Heroes Celebration".
  18. ^ Petrova, Daniela (January 25, 2016). "Living alone, I learned to be happy single. So why move in with my boyfriend?" – via
  19. ^ "Sebastian Junger on His New War Documentary 'Korengal' - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone.
  20. ^ Petrova, Daniela (October 25, 2011). "Love, Loss & the Oscars". Marie Claire. Hearst Communication, Inc. Retrieved 2014.
  21. ^ October 2012 "The Perfect Storm" Check |url= value (help).
  22. ^ "Meet the Writers: Sebastian Junger". Barnes & Archived from the original on December 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  23. ^ April 18, 2013 "Fresh Air interview" Check |url= value (help).
  24. ^ "About the PSF". The Perfect Storm Foundation. Retrieved 2010.
  25. ^ "Sebastian Junger". Freebase. Retrieved 2010.
  26. ^ Sebastian Junger. Sebastian Junger-A Death in Belmont. Retrieved 2010.
  27. ^ Junger, Sebastian (2007). A death in Belmont (1st Harper Perennial ed.). New York, NY: Harper Perennial. p. 7. ISBN 9780060742690.
  28. ^ Krist, Gary (April 23, 2006). "The Burden of Proof (book review)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010.
  29. ^ a b Miller, Laura. "Dead Certainty". Salon. Retrieved 2010.
  30. ^ "Scenes from "A Death in Belmont"". April 5, 2006. Retrieved 2010.
  31. ^ Gwinn, Mary Ann (April 28, 2006). ""A Death in Belmont": A presumption of guilt (book review)". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2010.
  32. ^ "A Death in Belmont (book info page)". W. W. Norton & Company. Archived from the original on August 9, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  33. ^ Junger, Sebastian. "A Lion in Winter". National Geographic Adventure. Archived from the original on July 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  34. ^ Afghanistan Revealed | Watch the Documentary Film Free Online | SnagFilms.
  35. ^ "National Geographic Explores a Changing World: Afghanistan". Archived from the original on October 10, 2008.
  36. ^ Afghanistan Revealed | National Geographic Education Video Archived September 5, 2012, at
  37. ^ "Afghanistan Revealed Review". Entertainment Weekly.
  38. ^ Bateman, Christopher. "Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington Head to Sundance". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on August 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  39. ^ Barnes, Brooks (January 21, 2010). "Putting the Indie Back in Sundance". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  40. ^ Barnes, Brooks (February 1, 2010). "Sundance Honors 'Winter's Bone,' 'Restrepo'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  41. ^ Saito, Stephen. "The Doc Days of Summer: "Restrepo"". IFC. Archived from the original on August 31, 2010. Retrieved 2010. We had the terrifying experience of self-financing our film because we didn't want essentially corporate taste in the edit room with us
  42. ^ Piore, Adam. "Sebastian Junger Visits J-school to Talk About Oscar-Nominated Film Restrepo". Columbia University in the City of New York. Archived from the original on December 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  43. ^ Caputo, Philip (May 9, 2010). "Sebastian Junger's 'War,' reviewed by Philip Caputo". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010.
  44. ^ Seaborn, Jody. "Sebastian Junger's 'War': A year with a platoon in Afghanistan". Austin American-Statesman. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  45. ^ Cruz, Gilbert (2010-12-09). "The Top 10 Everything of 2010 - TIME". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved .
  46. ^ "The Top 10 Everything of 2010". Time.
  47. ^ "Special Film Screening: Korengal - Acclaimed writer and journalist Sebastian Junger returns to the Pritzker Military Museum & Library for a special screening and discussion of his new film, Korengal". Pritzker Military Museum and Library. September 13, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  48. ^ a b "What Is Courage?: 'Korengal' Breaks Down War In Afghanistan". May 31, 2014.
  50. ^ Hale, Mike (November 9, 2014). "Depicting a Man's World With One Key Absence - In The Last Patrol, Sebastian Junger Zeroes in on Manhood". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014.
  51. ^ Laurent, Olivier (November 10, 2014). "Battle-Scarred: Sebastian Junger's Last Patrol Premieres on HBO". Time. Retrieved 2014.
  52. ^ "Sebastian Junger - The Last Patrol - HBO Documentary Films". AMNH.
  53. ^ "The Last Patrol". Savannah Film Festival 2015.
  54. ^ "The Last Patrol". Seattle International Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 14, 2014.
  55. ^ Senior, Jennifer (18 May 2016). "Review: Sebastian Junger's 'Tribe' Examines Disbanded Brothers Returning to a Divided Country". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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