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In the early days of the Afghanistan war, Jeff Stern was scouring the streets of Kabul for a big story. He was accompanied by a driver, Aimal, who had ambitions of his own: to get rich off the sudden infusion of foreign attention and cash. In this gripping adventure story, Stern writes of how he and Aimal navigated an environment full of guns and danger and opportunity, and how they forged a deep bond. Then Stern got a call that changed everything. He discovered that Aimal had become an arms dealer, and was ultimately forced to flee the country to protect his family from his increasingly dangerous business partners. Tragic, powerful, and layered, The Mercenary is more than a wartime drama. It is a Rashomon-like story about how politics and violence warp our humanity, and keep the most important truths hidden.
Jeffrey E. Stern is an award winning journalist and author. Stern has written three books, including The 15:17 to Paris, which was turned into a major motion picture by Clint Eastwood and Warner Brothers, and The Last Thousand, which received honorable mention for best book of the Year by Library Journal. He has reported from Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Kashmir, the epicenter of the west African Ebola outbreak, and Oklahoma's death row. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and other outlets. In 2019, he received the Overseas Press Club award for the best human rights reporting in any medium, and the Amnesty International award for foreign reporting.
Stern will be in conversation with Mike Walter. Walter is the Principal General News Anchor in Washington. The five time Emmy award winning broadcast journalist has played a role in many of the CGTN milestones in Washington DC. He was the first general news anchor to appear on the air when the Broadcast Center in Washington began production in 2012. He was the first host of “The Heat” hosting the show for two years, where he interviewed the 39th U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as well as legendary U.S. broadcaster Tom Brokaw. Walter has won a number of prestigious honors. In 2010, Walter won the Ted Yates Memorial award, a special Emmy only given by unanimous vote of the board of directors of the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2005, Walter became the only local broadcast news anchor in the U.S. to ever win the coveted Dart Ochberg Fellowship. He was also a key contributor to two books on the 9/11 attacks. His oral history of that day is part of the permanent collection on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City.