Dexter Filkins: Reporting from the War Zone

Dexter Filkins-1.jpgDexter Filkins voluntarily spent more than a decade of his life in war zones. A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, Filkins dedicated much of his life to covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His New York Times best-seller The Forever War chronicles his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and recreates the visceral overload of being there.

Filkins says, “I want to show people what it feels like to be in Iraq and Afghanistan: the ambiguity, the heartbreak, the fear and the joy.”

The Forever War is one of eight titles by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors available in the SDHC Lending Library, and a favorable read as the council celebrates the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize throughout the year.

As a reporter, Filkins devoted himself to skillful and innovative work often done under hazardous conditions. He was drawn to report from such dangerous places because of the environment.

“War is human drama at its most epic and most intense,” said Filkins in an interview with Random House. “In war, you see people at their very best and their very worst, acting in ways you could never imagine.”

While posted in Afghanistan in the 1990s, Filkins saw the rise of the Taliban and the aftermath of the attacks on September 11 firsthand. Rather than take a political stance on the wars, Filkins strives to provide an objective look at the reality in the Middle East.

The Forever War Cover- Dexter Filkins.jpg“If my book is about anything, it’s about the reality on the ground. Down there, politics is irrelevant,” said Filkins.

Filkins was a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his dispatches from Afghanistan. In 2009 he won the Prize for dispatches from Pakistan and Afghanistan alongside a team of Times reporters. His article, “Right at the Edge” was part of the Prize-winning group of articles from the Times honored for outstanding international reporting.

Filkins acknowledges his work as something he thinks is extremely important.

“You kind of watch history unfold in front of you,” said Filkins in a discussion panel on war for the New Yorker Festival, “You feel like you’re in the middle of something really important and you’re doing something really important.”

While covering the tumultuous events in the war torn Middle East, Filkins risked his life and displayed excellence in journalism. His work embodies the characteristics celebrated at the centerpiece of the Pulitzer Prize Centennial.

Filkins is taking a break from his travels in war torn countries and has been writing for The New Yorker since 2011.


Books from the SDHC’s Lending Library are available through the Reading Group Toolkit program. For a $50 application fee, reading groups received up to 30 copies of a title and a discussion leader from our list of book scholars. Start your application.

  •  For Random House’s complete interview with Dexter Filkins, click here.
  • For more on Dexter Filkins and his work, visit The New Yorker.
  • For the complete video of the war discussion panel for The New Yorker Festival, visit YouTube.