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. One of only sixteen un-imbedded American journalists who stayed in the now-legendary Palestine Hotel in Baghdad throughout the American invasion, Garrels was uniquely placed to describe our latest war.
At the heart of Garrels' narrative is her evolving relationship with her Iraqi driver, Tahir, 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; Tahir's own opinions and poignant personal story provide a trenchant counterpoint to the headline news. The diary is also punctuated by e-mail bulletins sent by Garrels' husband, Vint Lawrence, to friends around the world, providing a private view of the rough-and-tumble, often dangerous life of a foreign correspondent, along with much-needed comic relief.
The result is an enthralling, deeply personal, utterly authentic picture of this war that no one else could have written. As Chicago Sun Times critic Lloyd Sachs wrote about Garrels' work from Baghdad, "a few choice words, honestly delivered, are worth more than a thousand pictures, in your mind's eye, they carry lasting truth."