You may not know the name C.J. Chivers, but you certainly recognise his work.
The former Marine is currently reporting for The New York Times in Libya. His detailed, straight-forward, clear-eyed prose finds its way into the paper and the At War blog on an almost daily basis.
Awards follow Chivers wherever he goes.
He won a Pulitzer Prize for his work from Afghanistan in 2002 and was part of the team that won another one in 2009. A story he wrote about the hostage crisis in a Beslan, Russia school earned a National Magazine Award for Esquire.
There’s also a book called “The Gun,” which traces the history of the AK-47.
Last month, Chivers’ post honouring fallen associates Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington flew around the Internet for the beauty, compassion, and love in his words. It served as a lovely, fitting tribute to two fallen heroes.
In short, you’ve read something he’s written.
Chivers took an unusual route to the top of the journalism world. He joined the Marines after a stint in the ROTC program, then retired as captain at 29 when the bureaucracy became overwhelming. He went to Colombia j-school and had internship offers from the Providence Journal and the Philadelphia Inquirer upon graduation.
The decision made itself.
“I chose Providence because it was clear from the interviewing process that the editors in Rhode Island were more personally interested in their young reporters. And the fishing was better. That mattered,” he told mediabistro.com in 2005.
A chance meeting with Howell Raines brought him to the Times, where he covered the police beat and worked — literally: “Some of these cops knew who I was, and they didn’t throw me out. So I morphed into a laborer.” — from Ground Zero before getting on the foreign correspondent beat.
During the past decade, Chivers has reported from conflict zones throughout the world, giving NYT readers a window into the world.
Additionally, he has written for outlets including Wired, Field & Stream, Foreign Affairs, and more. He also frequently posts on the Tumblr, offering additional insight into the stories that find their way to the pages of the grey Lady.
It’s simple, really: If you want to understand a conflict — or simply read some impressively reported, excellently articulated prose — Chivers is your guy.