No Ordinary Assignment

A Memoir

by Jane Ferguson

On Sale: 07/11/2023

No Ordinary Assignment

A Memoir

by Jane Ferguson

On Sale: 07/11/2023


About the Book

From award-winning journalist Jane Ferguson, an unflinching memoir of ambition and war—from The Troubles to the fall of Kabul.

In Northern Ireland in the 1980s and '90s, war was a secret, and young Jane Ferguson wanted to know the truth. For her, war was called The Troubles, bomb threats and military checkpoints on the way to school were commonplace, and an uncle's gunshot wound by an IRA assassin was disguised as a cow kick. Jane developed a penchant for asking questions that cut through this culture of silence, while the unspoken tension in her village exploded into abuse and rage at home. An opportunity to study Arabic in Yemen came as a great relief, and began a new pursuit of answers.

Ferguson has since reported from nearly every war front around the globe—from Yemen and Syria during the Arab Spring, Afghanistan during the fall of Kabul, and Ukraine during Russia's 2022 invasion—but her rise to the highest ranks of journalism has been anything but ordinary. Without family wealth or connections, she worked as a scrappy one-woman reporting team, a borrowed camera often her only equipment. Networks told her she had the wrong accent, even the wrong appearance. Still, her ambition to build a life in journalism on her own terms thrust her into harm's way time and again. While other reporters chased “bang bang shoot 'em up" stories, a different set of questions guided Ferguson's work, ones that gave faces and names to the people experiencing these conflicts. In the face of grave violence and suffering, giving voice to civilian lives seemed a small act of justice, no matter the risks.

For fans of Samantha Power, Marie Colvin, and Ariel Levy, Ferguson's bold debut chronicles her unlikely journey from bright, inquisitive child to intrepid war correspondent from the front lines of the most dangerous conflicts and dire humanitarian crises of our time. With an open-hearted humanity we rarely see in conflict stories, No Ordinary Assignment shows what it means to build an authentic career against the odds.

Critical Praise

“With vivid details and pointed reflection, her memoir draws readers into the world of war that exists beyond the “bang bang” of most news coverage… Ferguson clearly demonstrates the devastating, oft-overlooked impact of war on civilians from every side… She is an expert storyteller… A captivating, honest, and powerful attempt to do justice to the hardest stories to tell.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“For all the upheaval and conflict she’s seen, Jane Ferguson has never lost sight of the ordinary men and women caught in the middle of it all. This is the story of her journey, and it's told with breadth and verve and humanity.” — Dexter Filkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Forever War

“So much has been packed into this young foreign correspondent’s remarkable life, you’d think she’s far older than she is. From Ireland to Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, and Ukraine, there’s hardly a war zone she hasn’t covered. But what most draws you in to this finely written memoir are the raw accounts of a childhood short on love and long on criticism that no doubt pushed her in the direction of a high-wire career, and, along the way, a soulful search to understand who, really, is Jane Ferguson?” — Judy Woodruff, former anchor of PBS NewsHour

No Ordinary Assignment is an intimate portrait of a journalist coming into her own. For some of us that happens in boardrooms; for Jane Ferguson, it happened in war zones. Her memoir is a thrill to read and an inspiring example of what can happen when we confront fear and great risk with purpose.”
Pat Michell, author of Becoming a Dangerous Woman and cofounder of TEDWomen

“Growing up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, Jane Ferguson gained a visceral, instinctive understanding of conflict. She brought an inquisitive eye and innate empathy to the greatest stories that have defined our age, from the wars in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Her courageous book is an honest, searing examination of these events—and of the toll they inflict on journalists who give up so much to keep telling the stories of those who often can’t speak for themselves.” — Yaroslav Trofimov, author of The Siege of Mecca and chief foreign-affairs correspondent at Wall Street Journal

"Really important, brave reporting." — Nicholas Kristof

 "Jane Ferguson's breathtaking memoir takes us inside the savage wars of the last two decades with greater immediacy and compassion than any news report. Her inspiring and sometimes nerve jangling account shows what it takes to bring us the news: tremendous courage and determination, qualities she has in spades. Whether dreaming up an adventuresome life beyond Belfast or facing down murderous Yemeni warlords or Syrian torturers - or indeed network resistance - she is unflinching. Her book will forever alter the way you look at the news."  — Kati Marton, New York Times bestselling author of The Chancellor


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063272248
  • ISBN 10: 0063272245
  • Imprint: Mariner Books
  • On Sale: 07/11/2023
  • Pages: 336
  • List Price:36.99 CAD
  • BISAC2 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Editors, Journalists, Publishers

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