Donovan Webster

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Donovan Webster (born January 13, 1959) is a best-selling and award-winning journalist, author, film-maker, and humanitarian. A former senior editor for Outside magazine, his work has appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, Men's Health, Garden & Gun, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. He is also Interim Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, and an instructor in the Department of Honors Media Studies at the University of Virginia. Often viewed as a virtual recluse, he lives with his family outside Charlottesville, Virginia.


Webster attended Kenyon College in Ohio, graduating with a BA in English in 1981, then went on to attend Middlebury College's Breadloaf School of English for MFA graduate school. He then moved to New York City, where he wrote for several magazines, many with the Conde Nast Corporation where he was soon employed. In 1986, working with friends, he co-founded Southern magazine, which was purchased by Time Incorporated in 1989. After that, he spent several years as senior editor at Outside magazine before going to write full-time.

In 1996—following a cover story he wrote in The New York Times Magazine about global land-mine proliferation—he co-founded Physicians Against Landmines/Center for International Rehabilitation (CIR). An international, non-governmental humanitarian organization, CIR sponsors field hospitals, wheelchair and prosthetics programs, plus prosthetics-fabrication training and disability advocacy in post-conflict nations worldwide. In 1997, as a founding part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, CIR was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2006, working with the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Disabilities, CIR was central to the UN’s Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities, the most-rapidly ratified UN Convention to ever gain approval by the UN General Assembly. He currently serves as CIR's vice-chairman.

He wrote "Traveling the Long Road to Freedom, One Step at a Time," which was published in Smithsonian magazine; this article was recently used in the English language and literature pre-release material (AQA).

In 2005, he ground-reported and authored the United Nations report on destruction and disabilities created around the Indian Ocean basin by the 2004 Banda Aceh Tsunami.

In 2006 and 2007, he was co-leader of the expedition Running the Sahara: an on-foot crossing of North Africa from Senegal to the Suez in Egypt. The expedition was filmed and edited into a documentary film, Running the Sahara, narrated by Matt Damon and released in 2007 with the logistics support of Sam Rutherford at The Running the Sahara project began in Senegal, went through Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Libya, before culminating in Egypt. Runners included Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin.

In July and August 2010, he and photographer Ron Haviv traveled to Madre de Dios state in southeast Peru for the Amazon Aid Foundation. There they documented the environmental destruction of the upper-Amazon basin rainforest by illegal gold mining, a practice that has increased exponentially due to a recent leap in gold prices. A documentary-film team followed their investigation. The result is "Amazon Gold," a theatrical documentary film.

His next film is fictional and is loosely based in truth. It is currently being negotiated.


  • Traveler's Tales: France, Traveler's Tales 1995 ISBN 1-885-21102-3
  • Aftermath - The Remnants of War, Donovan Webster, Pantheon Books, New York, 1996 ISBN 0-679-43195-0
  • The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II, Donovan Webster, Farrar Straus & Giroux, New York, NY, 2003 ISBN 0-06-074638-6
  • 'Babylon by Bus, Ray Lemoine & Jeff Neumann, (with Donovan Webster), Penguin Press, New York, NY, 2006 ISBN 1-59420-091-2
  • Meeting the Family: One Man's Journey Through His Human Ancestry, National Geographic/Random House, 2010 ISBN 978-1-4262-0573-6
  • Ship of Death: The Voyage that Sparked the Yellow Fever Pandemic that Changed the Course of the World (with Billy Smith) National Geographic/Random House, 2012 ISBN 1-4262-0712-3
  • "War Stories: True Fiction from the Global War on Terror" (2013)
  • "Moonshine: Five Centuries of American History, Distilled Corn Whiskey, and Stickin‘ it to the Man" Amazon Kindle Singles (2014)
  • "Keller's Turn": a novel. (2014)

See also[edit]

  • The Dinosaur Hunters [film]
  • Aftermath: The Remnants of War (film)
  • The Forgotten Desert [film]
  • Stillwell and The Burma Road: the longest battlefront of World War Two [film]
  • Running the Sahara [film]
  • Amazon Gold [film]