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In the Hot Zone

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  309 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Kevin Sites is a man on a mission. Venturing alone into the dark heart of war, armed with just a video camera, a digital camera, a laptop, and a satellite modem, the award-winning journalist covered virtually every major global hot spot as the first Internet correspondent for Yahoo! News. Beginning his journey with the anarchic chaos of Somalia in September 2005 and ending ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published October 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 569)
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Justin
I had high hopes for this one, but was very disappointed from beginning to end. Rooting for Sites to get over his own ego and self-plugging and write something decent, moving and real about the conflicts he covered proved fruitless. He endlessly mentioned his blog (I can't remember the name of it) and how it got millions of hits and was saving the world, etc. and how it's a pain to keep up with after a long day in a war zone, but so many were counting on him, etc. sigh, ad nauseum.

Worse, the wri
...more
Katie
I really enjoyed the idea behind this book, but it's not without its problems. Sites' work brings to light many other "hot zones" throughout the world that do not receive the same press as places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Ultimately, he promotes an anti-war message by showing the pain and suffering war brings upon people. While I commend his approach, I falls short of executing it. His writing is very scattered and lacks a real flow. Granted, he began this project as a travel blog, so perhaps i ...more
Kelli
"At the end of this journey, I wish I could say that I am more optimistic, more hopeful. But I am not. I have seen the good in people and their resilience, but our violent nature is a formidable opponent. It feeds on the myths and lies we tell ourselves about war, that it is about the armies and the combatants, when truly, it is about the destruction of civil life; not just innocent people but our ideals and our humanity. The only hope may come from preserving and sharing the truth."

This book sh
...more
Meyy5
(copied from a blog entry i posted that was inspired by reading this book.)

"sometimes i have this big grand dreams of doing something really heroic to save the world. these dreams are always on the grand scale of working at an international level, or collaborating with international people/organizations.

well, i just started watching the complimentary dvd that came with this book. then i started thinking about why there are so many conflicts in the world. i wonder if perhaps a small part of the r
...more
Charissa
Jan 14, 2008 Charissa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a sturdy constitution
Shelves: politics, war
Getting through this book was difficult as it's one, long litany of the horrible things people are doing to one another all across the globe right this very minute. But I figured if Kevin Sites was tough enough to witness it all first hand while enduring jet lag and worse, well, I'd damn well be tough enough to at least read about it from the comfort of my own home.

It's not amazing writing, but it's good enough, and I was impressed with the scope of his project and how he struggled with his own
...more
Maggie Campbell
"I hoped that when our national mourning was over, we, as American citizens, might feel a renewed sense of empathy because of this incident- one robust enough to transcend our national boundaries and inspire us to see the rest of the world."

"...I marvel at these strong women who have dressed in their best, most colorful clothes to meet us...These same wome, welcoming us with broad smiles and their rolling tongue chants, are forced to hide in the banana groves at night in fear of men bearing torc
...more
Moseydotes
Feb 22, 2008 Moseydotes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who believes in truth
I'm a news junkie, but even so, I'm always nagged by the knowledge that I'm only getting part of the story. I hadn't heard of journalist Kevin Sites' Hot Zone project until coming across this book, but the book served as an outstanding overview of his experiences on the project. This was nothing less than a monumenally worldview-expanding experience for me.

Sites says something near the end of the book to the effect that he's continually amazed by the seemingly willful ignorance of Americans when
...more
Lauren
I cannot wait to read this book. This book is the result of Kevin Sites' journey over the course of a year to 20 different "Hot Zones" - areas in the world that are torn apart by conflict. I followed Sites and all of his stories on Yahoo and the stories that he brought to the world are so amazing. I love him, his writing, and the way he reminds us that the stories we read in the newspapers about "ethnic conflicts", or "Palestinian rebels", etc, etc, have real human faces and lives behind them.

*U
...more
Steve
This book chronicle's journalist Kevin Sites' journey around the world reporting on conflict zones for Yahoo! News. Sites became the first reporter hired by Yahoo! after he and a producer friend pitched the idea of the "Hot Zone" blog to Yahoo!. Sites had experience as a war-correspondent for CNN and NBC and wanted to explore the stories of people on the ground who were involved in these conflicts in an attempt to put a human face on each side of these wars. His method is notable, especially to ...more
Jim
I picked this up because I learned that the author is the younger brother of Tim Sites, with whom I went to high school. It is remarkable to me to read this and think about how Kevin grew up in the safety of that same small-town Geneva, Ohio as me, but chose to make a career out of visiting and writing about the front lines of the some of the worst war-torn human misery possible. The project, twenty wars in one year, at first seemed likely to diminish the significance of each specific conflict, ...more
Frederick Gault
The project was a bit rushed, too many conflicts in too short a time for any one of them to be properly investigated. However, one must admire the author's desire to bring visibility to lesser known conflicts. Sadly, all that was really accomplished was burning out the author with compassion fatigue. I did learn a few things though. As to criticism that Kevin Sites ego was part of the equation I would say it takes that kind of person to willing go into combat zones to see what is going on.
Cassandra
3.5 stars

What a difficult read. This was an impulse check out from the library, wandering through the stacks and spotting the cover. The book is something way outside of my normal reading patterns so I decided to tackle it.

Sites is a very good writer. His stories are engaging and the details make you feel like you are in the midst of war. Constantly. Thanks to this book, I am now a little more aware of the affects of war on the noncombatant civilian. The chapter on Vietnam and Agent Orange and b
...more
Stephen
"[U.S. citizens] have unparalleled access to information, yet on the most important matters of our responsibility as global citizens, we live in information poverty. America is a third-world nation in its per capita knowledge of the people, issues and events outside its borders" (p. 285).

Tracing his path along a one-year chronicling of the world's most disastrous places, this book is a nice time capsule to the recent past (2005-6). I wish there was an ongoing project, besides something like Hum
...more
Robert
I like the way Sites is able to give a brief synopsis of how war is affecting each of these different locations (Iraq, Uganda, Nepal, etc) in small 10-page chapters. It left me wanting more info, or wanting to go get seperate books that focused on each of these different areas. I also like how he focused on these wars affect the civilians. Some of the details made me cringe (esp. certain excerpts of his trip to the Congo Republic), but I am pretty sure that is the reaction Sites is looking for. ...more
S.
Another 299 iBooks blue plate special, although sites is apparently aware of dollar for word count reviwers such as me, padding his book with blank pages between every dispatch. So maybe we actually only get 300 pages? Oh well, still a penny a page. And you get exactly what is described one year, twenty disaster zones, plenty of human suffering delved in bite sized chunks

Sites is the guy who videoed the falluja/marines mosque incident. I almost believe his self-recriminations....

In a madhouse wo
...more
Debbie
I first heard of Kevin Sites when he came to give a talk to a journalism class at my school, which I crashed. What he attempted to do was amazing, and I was very glad to find this book at the airport bookshop while I was waiting for my flight. This book, though billed as "current events" is more of a memoir. He gives the basic history of each of the conflict zones he covers, but what he does that is more valuable, in my opinion, is give a human face to the conflict. He tells the stories of those ...more
Vicki
If I had the money-I would buy this book for everyone. It is the most insightful/horrific/humanizing book I have read about the current events in the world. It doesnt sugar coat the events that unfold for one individual. I like what Sites has to say about the news profession and how it complicates and muddles they grey area of war. He made a statement about the availablitly of knowing news from around the world that I found profound--the US is like a thrid world country when we want to access ne ...more
Todd Kruse
This was an interesting project funded by Yahoo! News but I agree with the author's opening comment that his plan to cover 20 conflict zones/hot zones in one year will leave his coverage as very superficial. The section on Vietnam and the impact of Agent Orange was very informative but was so brief it felt like a lost opportunity to truly educate readers.

I enjoyed the range of topics but Sites could have included other conflict zones such as the Basque Region of Spain or even the gang violence
...more
Alison
Once again, a journalist ventures into the dangerous, brutal world that is everyday life to those not fortunate to live in places of relative peace and calm. This vivid reminder of the horrors that occur every minute of every day fueled my quest to find a way to be part of the solution. However, as with so many of these investigative journeys, the author's ego gets in the way. The writing is sub-par, as well, but the content is frightening, horrific, and EXTREMELY important. I laud his work and ...more
Brett
Catapulted to fame as Yahoo's first correspondent Kevin Sites is a brave solo journalist. His most famous story occurred during an embed with the 3.1 Marine Unit where he filmed the execution of an unarmed Arab following a Mosque raid. Additionally the book is a good follow up to stories reported on the "hot zone."

The included DVD is a great companion to the book. American media failed to show the actual shooting but the DVD shows the controversial Mosque shooting unedited. It additionally inclu
...more
Jessica Dally
This is not a book for the weak of stomach as war zones have a tendancy to be filled with horrible stories. But honestly, if a total sissy like me can take it, you can too. It's well worth the read to inform you a bit more about what's going on in the world, especially since you're not gonna hear it from the US media, at least not in any meaningful way.

The author is a great writer, both interesting and human and while the stories can be difficult you'll be glad you spent the time learning a bit
...more
Kevin
a great idea, poorly executed. he goes from war-torn nation to war-torn nation (20-odd places), but only writes a few pages about each one. well, at 5-10 pages each we can get a 300 page book pretty quickly, but there's only a gloss on each place. not enough depth to make it worthwhile, unless you want to read about one suicide-bombing victim from isreal and one palestinian who suffered at the hands of the IDF. one case on either side? sure, i guess that's balanced in some alternate universe. bu ...more
Kerri
I learned a lot of sad facts and heart-wrenching anecdotes from this thoughtful conflict junky's memoir. It is frustrating that the book is from 2007 and there is no easy way to follow up on all these wars, besides that I know most are still active or reactivated. Sites summary that we as a society (and our media esp) need to get beyond knowing about the individual battles and realize the horrendous collateral damage being done. We need to care more.
Steev Hise
Dec 15, 2007 Steev Hise rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: journalists and media people
This book, first of all, is a really fast and easy read.

Second, it choked me up about once every 5 pages, on average.

Kevin Sites visited some of the most crazy dangerous places and saw some of the most horribly suffering people in the world. It's hard reading about this stuff, and it must have been really hard for him doing it.

Lots of great stuff about journalist ethics, "the truth", etc.
really good.
Jeff
Much different than what I thought it would be, Sites spends one year hitting twenty different world conflict zones on a quest to shine some light on the faces and names of individuals, families and societies caught in war's crossfire. Horrific descriptions of war's effect on human populations of Colombia, Uganda, Chechnya, Cambodia and others will probably be with me for life. Comes with a nifty documentary CD!
Emily
Sites seems dedicated to not turning into just another journalist exploiting the war to further his career - and I do believe he means that - but in this book that doesn't come across. He hops back and forth from one war-ravaged country to the next and doesn't provide any context for the tragic stories he tells. Combine the lack of depth with an average writing style and the book never won me over.
Stephanie
Sites claims his book and blog are not "war porn," but I felt icky after skipping from Congo to Iraq to Sudan to Somalia in 100 pages. Lots of vignettes, very little context. His stories from Iraq are more compelling and personal, because he spent longer there reporting for the network news, but the globetrotting war blogging stuff is just shallow and sensational. He's also a pretty weak writer.
Eliza
I really liked this book, although some chapters piqued my interest more than others, it gave a great overall picture of the state of the world today, and just how violent and oppressive it can be for the many unfortunate nations around it. Some of the conflicts I had not even known about at all, and the reality of it at times brought tears to my eyes. A great read!!
Melissa
I could barely put this book down. Through powerful and genuine words, KS gives a small but poignant glimpse into not only the lives of those who have lived thorough more trauma then most of us will ever know, but the internal moral dilemma of a combat journalist. As rose colored glass wearing Americans we should all read this book. We have NO idea how lucky we are.
Trudy Jaskela
Sites, a former journalist with CNN and NBC, is hired as first journalist with Yahoo News. In one year he covers 20 of the world's conflicts.
Sites writes about the huamn stories of war.
Well written, Easy reading
Author's message - war achieves nothing. But the collateral damage is horrendous - the civilians killed, buildings destroyed, etc...
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Kevin Sites has spent the past decade reporting on global war and disaster for ABC, NBC, CNN, and Yahoo! News. In 2005, he became Yahoo!’s first correspondent and covered every major conflict in the world in a single year for his website, “Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone.”

The project helped inspire the use of “backpack journalism” as tool for immersive reporting. He is the author of two books for Harp
...more
More about Kevin Sites...
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“The story is about being loyal to the truth as a nation, that citizens of a democracy are collectively responsible for what their troops do in war, good or bad.” 11 likes
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