Steve Mumford talks about BAGHDAD JOURNAL on CBS NEWS

“Saddam Hussein Goes Back to Court Tomorrow; Getting Home From the Holidays” / CBS News / John Roberts, Joie Chen, Randall Pinkston, Jerry Bowen, Lara Logan, John Blackstone / November 27, 2005

JOHN ROBERTS, CBS ANCHOR: Good evening, I`m John Roberts. Saddam Hussein goes back to court tomorrow as a top judge in the trial is threatened with death. And we`ll also have these stories:

JOIE CHEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Are we there yet? I`m Joie Chen at Reagan National Airport on getting home from the holidays.

RANDALL PINKSTON, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Are you shopping for a $200,000 diamond or a fine painting? Costco and Sam`s Club would like your business. I`m Randall Pinkston. I`ll have that story.

JERRY BOWEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jerry Bowen in Torrance, California, with the car of the future: a million-dollar baby that runs on hydrogen fuel. And it`s not a Rolls.

ANNOUNCER: This is the CBS Evening News with John Roberts.

[Steve Mumford segment:]

ROBERTS: Combat artists have been side by side with U.S. soldiers since the days of the civil war. And Iraq is no exception. New York artist Steve Mumford spent more than a year with U.S. troops. His work appears in the new book, "Baghdad Journal."

And that`s tonight`s "Sunday Cover," a unique perspective on a war that has claimed more than 2,100 American lives.


STEVE MUMFORD, ARTIST: I went to Iraq to paint whatever I would see, you know, I wanted to experience what life was like in a war zone and record that. There are things about Iraq that are beautiful; there are things about Iraq that are scary. It`s not like everywhere I went there was sort of terrible Iraqi suffering going on, and I think that has to do with the fact that human beings in a war zone are going to try to make the best of it.

One of the things I wanted to record was the interaction between U.S. military units and the Iraqis themselves. It`s almost like two worlds that hardly ever come into contact.

For the enlisted men, their lives tend to be very, very focused on, you know, just those hours when they have to not only perform the mission, but be incredibly alert. I was just trying to capture some of the tension of these guys waiting for the order to go in, knowing that they were going to facing combat.

Whenever the kids see soldiers on patrol, they`ll come racing up to the Humvees, because they know these guys have candy.

The parents, I think, tolerated it; I think they had mixed feelings about it. Life in a war zone has its aspects of normalcy, as well as its aspects of irrationality and craziness.

This was a woman who was killed with her family in her car. This was just after the insurgents had hit a vehicle we were travelling in with a rocket-propelled grenade.

I had this sense of danger. On the other hand, pulling out my drawing pad and starting to draw was a way to focus that, that kind of nervousness, so just as the soldiers were focusing on their mission, I think I was trying to focus on making a drawing.

I found with myself I was never able to kind of find any easy morals in this story. On the other hand, there are certain universals. For example, the fear or uncertainty in a prisoner`s eyes.

More than anything else, the sense I got from Iraq was this is a complex situation, and people react in complex and unexpected ways. It`s not simple and black and white.


ROBERTS: Artist Steve Mumford says he found his experiences in Iraq so moving that they will be the focus of his work for at least the next year.

We`ll be right back.


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