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Traveling FromPittsburgh, USA or Croatia
Carmen Gentile has spent the last two decades traveling the world as a journalist covering conflict and developing countries.
His work has taken him to the mountains of Afghanistan, Iraqi deserts and the Brazilian Amazon and has appeared in The New York Times, TIME, Esquire, USA Today and other leading publications.
When he’s not working, Carmen has climbed mountains in Bolivia, surfed world-class waves in El Salvador and off-road motorcycled in New Zealand.
In 2010, his life was forever changed when he was injured by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade while embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In perhaps the most unusual injury in the annals of modern warfare, Carmen was struck in the face by the rocket at close range, blinding him in his right eye and shattering the side of his face.
Fortunately for him, the ordnance, capable of disabling an armored vehicle, did not detonate. Carmen was evacuated from the hot zone and subsequently underwent four operations to repair his face and restore some of his vision.
After months of recovery, he returned to frontline reporting in Afghanistan, a harrowing tale he chronicles with dark and self-deprecating humor in his book Blindsided by the Taliban. The story chronicles not only his injury but his personal, professional, and romantic missteps and Carmen seeks to return to the one thing he feels he can still get right: covering war.
He has spoken at length about his experience and how having a sense of humor about his injury and other setbacks helped him maintain his sanity during the worst time of his life. Carmen continues to cover conflict like the recent fighting in Iraq between local forces and the Islamic State in the northern city of Mosul.
Hoping to entice new readers to this important story, he recently teamed up with a photographer and fellow motorcycle enthusiast to combine riding and the story of the fighting in Iraq into a single narrative.
The story proved so popular that Carmen is now working with a production team to turn the concept into a TV series with episodes taking place in countries where he’s previously reported including Afghanistan, Haiti, Brazil, and Iraq.
Blindsided by the Taliban: A Journalist's Story of War, Trauma, Love, and Loss
Based on his book of the same name, Carmen Gentile is a longtime conflict correspondent with a flair for storytelling and will make his own tale of survival from a deadly and unusual attack compelling and thought-provoking for anyone who’s faced adversity in their own lives.
Reviews from his book include:
“Blindsided by the Taliban is a rollicking journey that starts with what should have been a fatal event. Instead, Gentile takes the reader along on a physical and emotional recovery from problems that actually get worse before they get better. His dysfunctional relationships, gut-wrenching descriptions of constipation and living conditions on remote combat outposts, and sexual misadventures with a parade of “friends” offering an escape are vivid, painfully, honest, and hilarious. He eventually finds normalcy and comfort back in Afghanistan’s war zone and realizes that he’s one of the “fortunate people.” Yet this book provides a rare look at the personal cost of delivering the news from the world’s hellholes to our living rooms.”― Oren Dorell, Foreign Affairs and Breaking News Reporter at the USA Today
“At turns hilarious and harrowing, surreal and sobering, Blindsided by the Taliban offers an unvarnished account of Carmen Gentile’s horrific combat-zone injury and anguished recovery―one as much psychological as physical―that takes us deep into the dark heart of war and the byzantine maze of love as he searches for purpose and staggers toward redemption. Admirably bereft of self-pity, and resisting any impulse to airbrush his worst behavior, Gentile etches a bracing, incisive self-portrait of a war reporter who realizes the only way he can heal is to return to the front lines, where he will confront the enemy he fears most: himself.” ― Martin Kuz, Reporter for the San Antonio Express-News
Journalism and Conflict Reporting
Getting the story from the front lines has become increasingly difficult, what with news outlets and news consumers paying less attention to the fighting and suffering overseas.
Carmen Gentile has reported on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as bouts of unrest around the world. Most of his work has appeared in mainstream publications like USA Today and other leading outlets.
But with more Americans focusing their interest on events at home, Carmen has turned his attention towards finding new ways to get audiences and readers to pay attention to the important stories happening thousands of miles away.
While reporting on the fighting in Iraq between locals forces and the Islamic State, Carmen and a photographer found a new angle on the story. Both being passionate about motorcycles, they found in the embattled city of Mosul a unique bike which they purchased from a local man, then hired a mechanic to repair. The duo then rode the bike in northern Iraq, telling the story of the war and the people affected by it through their motorcycle adventure.
The story proved so popular that Carmen is currently collaborating with a production team to create a series that combines motorcycle riding and reporting in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, The Balkans and elsewhere.
In his talk about journalism and conflict reporting, Carmen will discuss:
- The recent conflicts a and hardships he’s covered, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the refugee population along the Turkish/Syrian border;
- The changing nature of conflict reporting: fewer resources and diminishing interest among news consumers and editors;
- Finding creative new ways to continue telling important stories and enticing new readers and viewers to take an interest in other parts of the world.
Safety and Security Precautions in a Hostile Environment
Carmen Gentile has spent years working in war zones and other hostile environments the world over.
Now Carmen is imparting the lessons he learned in the field to others who cover conflict and wish to remain safe while getting the story. He imparts years of accrued knowledge as a volunteer instructor for the nonprofit organization Trauma Training for Journalists.
Earlier this year, TTJ held a training for journalists working Cambodia, where those reporting the news have been harassed by authorities and caught in the middle of deadly protests. Carmen instructed a group of multinational journalists on how to cover violence while remaining safe in the process.
Among the topics he covers in his lessons:
- Preparations for going into a hostile environment: having the right accreditation, visas and other essential documents;
- Finding a reliable translator and driver;
- What to do in the event of a mass shooting, bombing or other spontaneous outburst of violence;
- How to act when detained by authorities or violent non-government groups;
- Staying safe while reporting for prolonged periods in a war zone;
- Safety equipment: body, armor, helmet, first aid kits, emergency contacts.
- "At turns hilarious and harrowing, surreal and sobering, Blindsided by the Taliban offers an unvarnished account of Carmen Gentile's horrific combat-zone injury and anguished recovery... Gentile etches a bracing, incisive self-portrait of a war reporter who realizes the only way he can heal is to return to the front lines, where he will confront the enemy he fears most: himself." Martin Kuz Projects Reporter, The San Antonio Express-News
- "This book is an honest portrayal of how difficult it is not only to be a freelance journalist, but to be one in a war zone. It is a must-read for those who romanticize the work, as well as those who want to be journalists." Krishnadev Calamur Senior Editor, The Atlantic
- "A genuinely gripping and intense tale of warfare, injury, and recovery seen through the eyes of a seasoned war journalist... equal parts wrenching war drama and probing soul-searching: an incredible, captivating story of the fragile nature of humanity rarely found in war literature today." Steve Leonard Creator of Doctrine Man