Ambushed: A War Reporter's Life on the Line


310 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-14-029811-8
DDC 966.404





Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein, Distinguished Research Professor of History Emeritus,
York University, served as Director of the Canadian War Museum from 1998
to 2000. He is the author of Who Killed Canadian History? and co-author
of The Canadian 100: The 100 Most Infl


Journalists regularly put themselves in harm’s way, covering the news
so that we at home can read or watch television stories from the safety
of our homes. Ian Stewart, a Canadian, worked for the Associated Press
in Asia for some years and then in Sierra Leone in 1998–99. The civil
war there, one of the most vicious anywhere, pitted one team of looters
and murderers against another while largely ineffectual United Nations
troops, not all of whom were averse to looting of their own, tried to
referee. “Soldiers” from one faction or another chopped off the
limbs of men, women, and children to terrorize the population, and
succeeded in doing so very effectively. In January 1999, Stewart was
shot in the head on the streets of the capital, Freetown, one of his
colleagues being killed instantly. Fortuitously airlifted out and back
to London, Stewart received excellent care and survived.

This book is his story, most important for the account of his trauma
and slow road to recovery. That he was capable of writing it at all is a
tribute to his courage and the quality of care he received. His tales of
being a foreign correspondent, despite his ordeal, have a slight aura of
naпveté. He recounts one time when he encountered danger in Kashmir
and, he says, wanted to shout “Don’t shoot! I’m Canadian!” That
unfortunately seems to be the way the Canadian government and people
view the world, but Stewart’s near-death in Sierra Leone should
demonstrate that bad things happen to good people—and good nations.


Stewart, Ian., “Ambushed: A War Reporter's Life on the Line,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,