From Chechnya to Ann Arbor
In his career as a photojournalist, David Turnley traveled to seventy-five countries, met Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, and the Dalai Lama, and covered the falls of communism and apartheid plus most of the wars since Vietnam.
Now Turnley, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work at the Detroit Free Press, is back in Ann Arbor. "I've always loved this community," says the blond-haired, blue-eyed Turnley over coffee at Sweetwaters. "I was proud to go to school here from '72 through '77. I felt like I'd found my tribe. And I always stayed in touch with my colleagues at the university and the Residential College."
His connection to his alma mater helped Turnley find a new career after he had a close call while covering the war Chechnya.
"We'd been getting shelled night and day for days," he recalls, "but this particular morning things were quiet. My colleague Jim Nachtwey and I were talking to a man outside a twenty-story building, and I got this twitch in my neck. You learn to trust your instincts after a while, so I said, 'Let's get out of here.' We went around the corner, and fifteen seconds later a shell landed and killed the guy we were just talking to. After fifteen years of covering war zones, I decided to give my guardian angels a rest."