PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – You may have seen his byline in USA Today, The New York Times, or Newsweek.
Carmen Gentile has traveled the world – often in war-torn areas.
“The more time I spend there, the more I learn what I don’t know,” Gentile said. “I think it’s an important story. I think it is something people need to know about, but I also go because I want to know about it and I want to be there first-hand to get an idea of what’s going on in the world.”
He has worked in Brazil and Cairo, but in 2010, he was nearly killed in Afghanistan. He was embedded with American troops who were talking to some unarmed young Afghanis when a rocket-propelled grenade nearly killed the New Kensington native.
“I went through a very difficult time, being blinded in this eye, having all these bones crushed in my face, and all these numerous surgeries to follow up. But, there are people in this world who have it much worse than I do,” he said.
In 2014, in a remote cabin near Melcroft, Fayette County, he started to write a book called “Blindsided by the Taliban.”
He simply had his laptop and years of notes he had taken while in Afghanistan.
“More than 20 years ago, when I had my first internship at a newspaper in the New Kensington area – I worked at the Valley News Dispatch. I was a guy with a notebook talking to somebody — tell me your story,” Gentile said.
It’s his story of what journalists do to tell what is happening in places like Afghanistan. It is also told in a way that is uniquely Pittsburgh.
“People here who are telling stories — the best barstool storytellers — always tell their stories in the present tense. And it’s not always grammatically correct, but they will do this thing that they’ll say, ‘So I says to my buddy,’” Gentile said.
While Gentile steers clear of politics in the book. He hopes it opens Americans’ eyes to what is going on half-a-world away.
“We’ve been there now almost twice as long as we were in Vietnam, and I don’t see us ending any time soon. I don’t know what the solution is,” he said.
But, he does know he won’t stop sharing those stories regardless of where the assignment takes him.