How Two Photojournalists Ended a Firefight During the Liberian Civil War

Dispatches from the front.
Aug. 18 2014 12:20 PM

How Curiosity and a Camera Can End a Firefight

It helps when no one knows why they're fighting.

2170502CH002_bridge
Government militia soldiers fire at enemy rebel soldiers July 25, 2003 at a key bridge in Monrovia, Liberia.

Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Slate has partnered with Brooklyn Brewery and RISC to bring its hit war correspondent interview series to our readers. In this third installment, Steve Hindy, founder of Brooklyn Brewery and a former Associated Press foreign correspondent, sits down with three of the people closest to Chris Hondros, the award-winning photojournalist who was killed in Misurata, Libya in 2011. Testament, a collection of Hondros’ photography and writing, was released posthumously this year.

In 2003, Hondros was in Liberia, covering the tail end of the second Liberian civil war, a bloody conflict that pitted Charles Taylors government forces against two different rebel groups. On one particular day of the brutal war, he and fellow photojournalist Michael Kamber were embedded with a group of LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) fighters when a firefight broke out with government troops. Pinned on one side of a bridge in the midst of the shootout, bullets ricocheting everywhere, Hondros questioned why the two groups were even fighting in the first place. In the clip above, Todd Heisler (staff photographer for the New York Times) and Sandy Ciric (director of photography at Getty Images) discuss how Hondros realized the LURD fighters were clueless about the cause of the fight—and ultimately risked his life to negotiate a truce.​​

Chris Wade is a producer for Slate Video and occasional contributor to Brow Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

A.J. McCarthy is a Slate Video blogger.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.