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Watch “War Zone Diary” Tonight

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I’m joining a number of TV critics in asking you to watch “War Zone Diary” tonight at 10pm on MSNBC.

Watch it for the “board of death” in NBC’s Baghdad bureau.

Watch it for the raw and gruesome imagery from battle zones.

Watch it for the candid on-camera confessionals.

Just watch it.

NBC is extensively promoting the documentary, narrated by correspondent Richard Engel and based on four years of his video diaries.

It’s chilling to watch Engel look directly at the camera, circa 2003 and 2004, as he describes the changing nature of the conflict. Here’s the most frightening line:

“I’ve come to accept the fact that if I were to be kidnapped, I would try and fight my way out of it. Better to die running away shot in the back than to be beheaded on my knees.”

The documentary includes the most graphic imagery I’ve seen broadcast by a western news organization since the start of the war. Viewers see a severed and crumpled hand, piles of decomposing bodies in the Baghdad morgue, a burnt body being placed in a body bag, at least two corpses in various stages of decomposition, and a field of unidentified bodies.

The film also admirably shows the travails of the local journalists and stringers who go places Engel can’t.

Looking at the bullet holes and shattered glass in Engel’s hotel rooms, and listening to him wonder if he’s pushing his luck, viewers will feel like they’re there. It premieres tonight at 10pm on MSNBC.

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