Vanessa M. Gezari

The Tender Soldier
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Monrovia, Liberia, 2007

(Kathleen Flynn)

Vanessa M. Gezari is the managing editor of Columbia Journalism Review and an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School. She has reported from four continents, nine countries, and many corners of the United States. On September 10, 2001, she left the U.S. to freelance in South Asia and spent the next three years reporting from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, and Sri Lanka, for the Chicago Tribune and others. Gezari went on to become a foreign and national correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times, where she explored the veracity of rape allegations against Duke lacrosse players before the world had reason to doubt them, traveled the Gulf Coast to document the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and reported on terrorism, disaster, and resilience from Russia, England, Indonesia, and Liberia.

Gezari’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, and The New Republic. She has trained Afghan journalists with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and mentored reporters and editors at Pajhwok Afghan News, Afghanistan’s largest independent news agency. Her first book, The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice, is a narrative account of the Human Terrain System, an ambitious, troubled Army program that sent civilian social scientists into combat with soldiers to help them understand local culture. Kirkus selected The Tender Soldier as one of the best nonfiction books of 2013.

Gezari was a 2012 Knight-Wallace Fellow and three-time Livingston Award finalist; she has received grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund for Investigative Journalism, an International Reporting Project fellowship, and a MacDowell Colony writing residency. She is a founding member of Deca, an international journalism collective whose members write deeply reported stories about the world. She has taught at the University of Michigan and was a 2015 Koeppel Fellow at Wesleyan University.

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