By the New York Times’s legendary war correspondent, written while battling terminal brain cancer: a life-affirming memoir of high adventure, deep wisdom, and finding true happiness amid the unlikeliest circumstances

“This is, by far, the most enlightening and inspiring book on facing death—and on discovering the beauty of life.” —Lynsey Addario, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist

For thirty years, Rod Nordland shadowed death. As one of his generation's preeminent war correspondents, he reported in over 150 countries, many of which were in violent upheaval, and was no stranger to witnessing tragedy. But in summer 2019, during the height of India’s erratic monsoon season, Nordland was suddenly faced with a tragedy of his own: he collapsed in the middle of a morning jog, was rushed to the hospital, and diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor.

After decades chasing conflicts across the globe, Nordland, now confined to a hospital bed, found the strength to face more personal conflicts. He reconnected with his estranged children and became closer with them than he ever thought possible. He repaired a friendship with a best friend that had been broken for twenty years. The arrogance and certitude that dominated his every action was replaced by a lucid sense of humility and generosity that persisted even after he left the hospital. Norland’s tragedy became, in his own words, “a gift that has enriched my life.”  

Waiting for the Monsoon is the exemplary story of confronting death with both eyes open, and of the human capacity to persevere even in the most difficult of times. With tremendous clarity, grace, and courage, Nordland has delivered a powerful final assignment, revealing how facing the unknown can transform experience and change our relationship to the world around us. 

About the author(s)

Rod Nordland is the New York Times’s Pulitzer Prize–winning international correspondent at large. Formerly the paper’s Kabul bureau chief, he has worked as a foreign correspondent in more than 150 countries. Previously he was Newsweek’s chief foreign correspondent, serving as Baghdad bureau chief from 2003–2005. He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for news reporting and also a finalist for a Pulitzer in international reporting from Southeast Asia. He has received two George Polk awards; several Overseas Press Club awards, and many other honors. He is the author of The Lovers: Afghanistan’s Romeo & Juliet.


“This is, by far, the most enlightening and inspiring book on facing death—and on discovering the beauty of life. ...One of the most intrepid and talented war correspondents of the past four decades, Rod Nordland has written a love letter to his second chance at life. ... An extraordinary tale of the power of the mind to survive—in war and in the face of the prognosis of one’s own death.” — Lynsey Addario, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, Macarthur Fellowship recipient, and New York Times bestselling author of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

"Powerful...Waiting for the Monsoon shows the life of a foreign correspondent to be both as vital and seductive as ever.” — Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down

"As one of the most courageous foreign correspondents of his generation, Rod Nordland emerged alive from myriad battlegrounds with many memorable stories to tell. More often than not, his stories have been a reaffirmation of the essential humanity of people encountered around the world in situations of war and loss. Waiting for the Monsoon is his rivetingly-told account of that life, and of his current final battle to survive a devastating brain tumor. This book is no chronicle of a death foretold, however, but rather the celebration of an extremely well-lived life, and, also, of the enduring power of love." — Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer and author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

"An unforgettable, moving book by an intrepid foreign correspondent for The New York Times. Though Nordland spent a career witnessing death on the battlefield, it is his own experience with a deadly illness that teaches him how to live with gratitude rather than hubris. It is a deeply personal story that will help readers recognize the urgency of repairing their most important relationships and what really matters in life." — Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times and author of Merchants of Truth

"In this complex, layered, and emotional memoir, Rod Nordland, battling terminal brain cancer, takes us from an abusive and impoverished childhood in the USA through four decades of war reporting in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. After one of the most remarkable careers in journalism, this is the most extraordinary story this legendary foreign correspondent has ever told.”
  — Gary Knight, Co-founder, VII Photo Agency; CEO, The VII Foundation

“A moving memoir of a life bravely lived.”
The Spectator

"Fascinating. . . . A compelling and clear-eyed dispatch in the face of a cruel and relentless illness. . . . This book provides an invaluable aide-memoire on the foreign reporter’s craft. . . . This is a gripping memoir of a consummate foreign reporter, and an inspiring journal of self-discovery when the 'cold breath of mortality' is on the neck." — The Observer (London), "Book of the Week"

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