Sunday, July 10, 2005
From Beyond Baghdad by Paul William Roberts, Harper's July 2003:I love Roberts' style, which is why I'm exhorting you to get the book shown here when it comes out on October 10, 2005.
"'Get this motherfucker!' the first soldier shouted to no one in particular.
After the grace and concern of the Arabs, this jolt of American culture unnerved me. I removed the turban in an attempt to convince them I was friend and not foe, but the combination of tightly wound cloth and heat left my hair looking like a toupee basted in Vitalis or motor oil.
The second soldier patted me down roughly, then scrutinized my Harper's press card minutely. I had just got myself ready to defend its authenticity when he said, 'What the fuck is Harper's?'
For the first time in my life I wished I was on assignment for National Review, to which I hastily compared Harper's--inasmuch as they were both magazines with a political focus.
'It have naked chicks in it?' he asked next.
'Not as many as we'd like...'"
Paul William Roberts is a Canadian expert on Iraq and a maverick journalist with a black sense of humor and fluency in the Iraqi culture born of decades of intimate familiarity. While other journalists were huddling in the Palestine Hotel or traveling in relative safety as embedded mascots, Roberts was one of the few who struck out on his own and actually stayed amongst the Iraqis. His previous weblog can be found here (complete with gems like the then-home addresses of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle), and his most current website is here.
Links to previous articles, helpful in getting to know him, are here, except for the article which introduced me to him, Beyond Baghdad-Lost in the cradle of civilization, which was published in Harpers' July 2003 edition but is unavailble online. His book review in the September 28, 2003 Globe and Mail, Pax Americana and the Bush Doctrine, cannot be directly accessed except after payment, but is cached here, with some distracting HTML.
The news of his most recent book is exciting; I promise you he is a fascinating read. And the Globe and Mail has made the first chapter available online here, so you can get to know him, too, if you don't already.