The Making of Life In the Death Zone

credit: Phil McKenna

credit: Phil McKenna

Starting in the early 1970s, two German boys—one from the East, one from the West—with binoculars around their necks spent their teenage years pacing either side of the insurmountable Iron Curtain, the “death zone,” looking for birds. Today, the former pen pals are striving to transform the no-man’s-land into a Green Belt across Europe. Theirs is a tale of two nature lovers overcoming physical and ideological barriers to rewild a domesticated continent.

To get the account right, journalist Phil McKenna literally walked into a minefield. Getting the piece into print wasn’t a cakewalk either. “28,000 miles, 8 countries, 4 editors, 3 publishers & 2 years later, the story about 2 boys and a wall is live,” he tweeted the day his article was published. [“Life in the Death Zone” appeared at NOVA Next on February 18, 2015, and was co-published the same day as “The Boys Who Loved Birds” at The Big Roundtable.]

Read the interview here. html.