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Making the leap

Cover of On All Fronts: The Educati
A review of On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist by Clarissa Ward

I’m a person who likes to read books that reflect what’s happening in my own life at the time. For example, having just changed careers and started a new job here at the library, I became interested in other people’s experiences with big changes in their lives. Perhaps this inclination was what drew me to pick up Clarissa Ward’s On All Fronts, which follows Ward when, immediately following the events of 9/11, she decides to make the leap into a new career as a war reporter. Ward writes vividly and emotionally about getting her feet under her as a brand-new journalist in Moscow, Syria, and Iraq, giving the reader an intense insider’s view of a foreign correspondent’s life—from the stress of embedding in a war zone to the deep friendships formed while there. She honestly acknowledges the detrimental effects this new career path has on her while also describing the beauty of places that most of us might never get to see, such as tiny mountain towns in Syria and the luxuriant coast of Beirut.

It’s an excellent story, but it’s also a terrible one, and contains potentially triggering content including physical violence, mental illness, and self-harm. So take this book on with care; it’s not a relaxing read by any means—to be honest, I felt pretty stressed out while reading it. But it is heartfelt, fast-paced, and educational, three elements that should be required in memoir, and which Ward’s story definitely delivers.

--reviewed by Annie A.

Oct 5, 2023