Scott Peterson is the Istanbul Bureau Chief for The Christian Science Monitor and a photographer for Getty Images. One of the most well-traveled and experienced foreign correspondents of his generation, he has reported and photographed conflict and powerful human narratives across three continents for more than two decades, which include thirty extended reporting trips to Iran since 1996.
Those visits and years of research into Iran's politics, history, and culture form the backbone of Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran--A Journey Behind the Headlines (Simon & Schuster, Sept. 2010).
'Swords' has been named one of the "Best Books of 2010" by Publishers Weekly, which reviews 7,000 titles a year. It has also been chosen for "Best of 2010" nonfiction lists by Salon.com, an NPR / WBUR panel, and The Christian Science Monitor.
In his work, Scott has been partly driven by this ambitious charge—a copy of which was first provided by a high school English teacher—of William Faulkner, who in 1950 advised the “young writer” to leave
- no room in his workshop for anything
- but the old verities and truths of the
- heart, the old universal truths lacking
- which any story is ephemeral and
- doomed—love and honor and pity and
- pride and compassion and sacrifice.
- Until he does so, he labors under a
- curse. He writes not of love but of lust,
- of defeats in which nobody loses
- anything of value, of victories without
- hope and worst of all without pity and
- compassion. His griefs grieve on no
- universal bones, leaving no scars. He
- writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Scott first began covering Iran as the Middle East Correspondent for the Monitor based in Amman, Jordan, then as Moscow Bureau Chief. During those years, his coverage stretched from Algiers to Beirut to Tehran, and later all of Russia and Central Asia. In Afghanistan he traveled with the Taliban in 1999, and later was witness to their collapse when Kabul fell in 2001.
He has frequently reported from Iraq, first during the 1991 Kurdish uprising, when he secretly crossed the border from Turkey, before being forced to flee with more than a million Kurds—and a handful of fellow journalists—when Saddam Hussein’s armed forces crushed the resistance.
From 1997 until today he has traveled often to Baghdad—except for a two-year period when he was blacklisted by the former regime. He was embedded for one month with US Marines during their November 2004 assault on Fallujah, and still carries shrapnel in his arm.
Scott won a "Citation of Excellence" for reports from northern Iraq in 2002 from the Overseas Press Club of America. Prior to joining the Monitor, he covered Africa and the Balkans for The Daily Telegraph (London) working throughout the former Yugoslavia on conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serbia. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he was based in Cyprus.
Scott is the author of the critically acclaimed Me Against My Brother: At War in Somalia, Sudan, and Rwanda (Routledge, 2000), about his work in war zones in Africa during six years in the 1990s. Based on more than fifty trips to Somalia, long forays into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, and extensive frontline visits across the continent, that book remains the definitive volume on how US and United Nations operations unraveled in Somalia.
Landmarks in Africa during two cross-continent overland trips included being in South Africa for the 1990 release of Nelson Mandela; traveling 1000 miles down the Congo River by barge; and motorcycling across the Sahara Desert. While earning his degree in English and East Asian Studies from Yale University, Scott also traveled twice to China—once from Pakistan over the Karakoram Pass and across the Middle Kingdom.
As a photographer for Getty Images in New York, Scott’s work has appeared in major news magazines, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Paris Match, and Le Figaro. His images from the Beslan terror attack in Russia in 2004 were recognized by the Missouri School of Journalism’s Pictures of the Year-International; those from Somalia in 1993 by World Press Photo.
An avid rock climber, Scott loves nothing more than adventuring with his four fearless children.