Naked in Baghdad The Iraq War and the Aftermath as Seen by NPR's Correspondent Anne Garrels

Anne Garrels; With Letters by Vint Lawrence




Trade Paperback

264 Pages



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As National Public Radio's senior foreign correspondent, Anne Garrels has covered conflicts in Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. She is renowned for direct, down-to-earth, insightful reportage, and for her independent take on what she sees. One of only sixteen non-embedded American journalists who stayed in Baghdad's now-legendary Palestine Hotel throughout the American invasion of Iraq, she was at the very center of the storm. Naked in Baghdad gives us the sights, sounds, and smells of our latest war with unparalleled vividness and immediacy.

Garrels's narrative starts with several trips she made to Baghdad before the war, beginning in October 2002. At its heart is her evolving relationship with her Iraqi driver/minder, Amer, who becomes her friend and confidant, often serving as her eyes and ears among the populace and taking her where no other reporter was able to penetrate. Amer's own strong reactions and personal dilemma provide a trenchant counterpoint to daily events. The story is also punctuated by e-mail bulletins sent by Garrels's husband, Vint Lawrence, to their friends around the world, giving a private view of the rough-and-tumble, often dangerous life of a foreign correspondent, along with some much-needed comic relief.

The result is enthralling, personal, and authentic—an on-the-ground picture of the war in Iraq that no one else could have written. As Chicago Sun-Times critic Lloyd Sachs wrote about Garrels's work in Baghdad, "A few choice words, honestly delivered, are worth more than a thousand pictures . . . In your mind's eye, they carry lasting truth."

This paperback edition also features new material in both the introduction and afterword on the first year of America's Iraqi occupation.


Praise for Naked in Baghdad

"It is fascinating to read about the frustrations, large and small, of an intrepid female reporter."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"By telling the story of the Iraqi invasion in human terms, Garrels has given us an insider's look at war in all its complexity and terror."—Robin Updike, The Seattle Times

"Blessed be the small feet who get to creep closer to the truth, the first casualty. Garrels was the only broadcaster among the sixteen American reporters who remained in Baghdad during the bombing . . . She reported parts of the war you didn't see on TV . . . [Naked in Baghdad is] an instructive and engaging diary."—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

"It is unlikely that there could be a better account of the before, during and after of the Iraq war than Garrels' . . . Her reporting and the book are enormously enriched by her broad experience of the truly awful conflicts of our times, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Chechnya and now Iraq—all of which she covered."—Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Like so many of her NPR colleagues, Anne Garrels reports with eloquence and insight. Anne, however, has that additional quality that keeps you in your car even after you’ve pulled into your driveway, carport, or garage. When Anne reports on the radio, you want to keep listening. When she has a book in her, you want to read it."—Ted Koppel, Nightline

"[This book is] intimate, authentic, and blunt, without much literary decoration. It's a simple account that offers a glimpse inside a foreign reporter's life—and of the grander canvas upon which world events are being painted . . . Garrels' account is scrupulously impartial. She openly discusses her skepticism about a war based on suspicions about weapons of mass destruction, but bluntly explains Saddam's intolerable degradations. Garrels is, as one might hope, ultimately fair and balanced."—Ron Franscell, San Jose Mercury News

"A fascinating look behind the curtain of war . . . This book is a testament to [Garrels'] courage and skill."—Mike Revzin, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution

"Garrels is a deservingly lauded reporter who may be without peer in the medium of Edward R. Murrow, taking NPR listeners along with her to the bloody conflicts across the globe. Much of her book is a print version of that work, incomparably rich in description of the characters of war. She writes of extortion by government officials who have been accomplices to mass terror as well as the fears of the citizens who cling to their lives in a war where they can't find moral certainty . . . When Garrels does write about the city, she weaves in crucial and elegantly written historical context. She draws parallels between Saddam and the Soviet Union's Joseph Stalin more clearly than probably any reporter who's covered the conflict, from the perceived need in both nations for a dictator holding together a fractious country to the ultimately empty symbolism of pulling down a statue. She accurately foreshadows the difficulties the United States would encounter in its occupation and provides enlightening anecdotes of the unforeseen advantages of being a middle-aged female reporter, escaping some of the professional harassment of her male colleagues and the sexual harassment of younger women."—Mark Johnson, The Charlotte Observer

"When I hear that a report from Annie Garrels is about to come on the radio, I stop what I’m doing and listen. I know I’m going to learn something remarkable from some place I’ve never been and am never likely to go. Her reports from the crumbling Soviet Union and the resurrected Russia, from Afghanistan in turmoil and Baghdad under fire stand out as some of the bravest and most enlightening reporting for any news organization over the last decade. Garrels is scrupulously fair, always thorough, unfailingly interesting, and unbelievably s26courageous."—Cokie Roberts, ABC News

"Whether from Baghdad or Moscow, Jerusalem or another place of crisis, Anne Garrels infuses her reporting on warfare and politics with lucid, human accounts of lives caught in conflict. Every time her voice comes on NPR, it's a signal that you are about to hear a story with exceptional clarity and rigorous respect for the highest standards of journalism."—David K. Shipler, former Jerusalem bureau chief, The New York Times

"Among foreign correspondents, Anne Garrels is one of the true, brave, clear-eyed greats—a voice that cuts through and rises above the general chatter to tell you most vivdly what it's like and what's at stake in the defining moments of our time."—Philip Gourevitch, author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

"Anyone who heard Anne Garrels report from Iraq will recognize the warm, gritty style of Naked in Baghdad . . . Her husband Vint's e-mail dispatches about Annie's fortunes add substance and a breezy grace."—O magazine

"Anne Garrels is an extraordinary person and a rare kind of journalist. Blessed with a razor-sharp intelligence and bravery in equal measures, she is also knowledgeable, fair-minded, and unerringly honest. As a uniquely trustworthy American voice from the far-flung battlefields of today’s new world, Garrels deserves the attention of as many of her fellow citizens as possible."—Jon Lee Anderson, author of The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan

"Garrels risked her life to bring the war in Iraq to her listeners, even after her network suggested she leave Baghdad for her own safety. She couldn't offer pictures, but she didn't need to—her extraordinary reporting skills and personal courage combined to create a powerful and compelling portrait of war."—William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense

dn0 "Longtime NPR reporter Garrels's account is much like her on-air persona: professional but personable, full of human touches and offhand wisdom. Arriving in Baghdad in the fall of 2002, she gives full notice of the humanity of those who would soon be falling under American bombs, though with no sympathy whatever for the monstrous Hussein regime—about which she offers some intriguing side notes . . . Yet she finds the Baghdadi people to be, in the main, friendly and solicitous—especially the women, who, she notes, enjoyed far more freedom under Saddam's rule than do their counterparts in most other Arab countries . . . Though of solid years, Garrels performs just fine during the days of shock and awe, a time of considerable worry to her husband, whose lengthy e-mails from home punctuate Garrels's account . . . Along the way, Garrels writes of the difficulty of reporting on what no one knows (the whereabouts of Saddam, the effectiveness of the bombing); gets off some nice zingers about rock-star reporter Geraldo Rivera, whose alleged horse's-ass qualities she richly affirms; gives a voice to Iraqi views that Saddam brought his woes on his own head; and roundly criticizes the Bush administration for its failure to win the peace—and apparent lack of interest in doing so. Highly readable, and most illuminating."—Kirkus Reviews

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Read an Excerpt

Anne Garrels has been a foreign correspondent for NPR since 1988. She is the recipient of numerous major awards including the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism in 2003.
Read the full excerpt



  • Naked in Baghdad by Anne Garrels--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Anne Garrels' book Naked in Baghdad: The Iraq War as Seen by NPR's Correspondent Anne Garrels, narrated by the author and by Vint Lawrence. As NPR's senior foreign correspondent, Anne Garrels has covered conflicts in Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. She is renowned for the direct, down-to-earth reportage and her independent-minded insight into what she observes.



  • Anne Garrels; With Letters by Vint Lawrence

  • Anne Garrels began her career in journalism at ABC News, covering the Soviet Union, Central America, and the State Department before moving to NBC. Since 1988, she has been a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, reporting from Russia and the other former Soviet republics, China, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, the West Bank, and, most recently, Iraq.

    A fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 1996-97, Garrels has received the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and the Overseas Press Club Award, and her work in Baghdad has been recognized with the International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award and Inter-Action award for Excellence in International Reporting. She is on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Garrels is the recipient of the George Polk Award for Radio Reporting "in recognition of her outstanding coverage of the war in Iraq."

    When she is not covering the world's hot spots, Garrels lives in Connecticut with her husband, the artist Vint Lawrence, and a menagerie that at last count included three dogs and three cats.