Monday, November 10, 2008

The Bullet Sponge

Above the fold on page one this morning, Moscow bureau chief C.J. Chivers delivers yet another brilliant piece of writing and reporting -- this time from the foxholes of Afghanistan, where American soldiers face increased dangers from their ground war with the Taliban. No one beats Chivers in his ability to weave narrative and capture voice; his stories always mesmerize, and should never be missed. "Basically, we're the bullet sponge," Chivers quotes a young American soldier as saying of their rogue battle with an elusive, deadly enemy.

It's the quote of the day and the story of the week.

Chris Chivers served as an infantry soldier in the Marine Corps until 1994, when he entered the Columbia U. Graduate School of Journalism. He has been at the New York Times since 1999.

Another Chivers must-read: his epic June 2005 Esquire narrative, "The School," a gripping account of the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis that won a 2005 National Magazine Award for reporting. Why that story appeared in Esquire -- and not in the New York Times Magazine, where it would surely have won a Pulitzer Prize -- remains an enduring mystery to all except Gerald Marzorati, the Times Magazine editor who turned the idea down.

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