I've just finished reading -- or rather, listening to "Naked in Baghdad," an account of last year's Iraq war by NPR foreign correspondent Anne Garrels.
Even though I also covered the war, mainly for BBC radio, I found the book surprisingly unsatisfying.
Garrels' job is almost identical to mine and so tales of flak jackets, satellite phones held together with duct tape, meagre booze rations and endless working days in less-than-salubrious conditions have long since lost their sheen of glamour and danger. Such assignments are usually just plain shitty -- as you'll know if you've followed this blog from the early days.
More than anything else, though, what spolit the book for me were the toe-curlingly mawkish circular e-mails sent to friends by Garrels' husband, Vint Lawrence -- which are republished in full. Each so-called "Brenda Bulletin" (named after the comic-strip reporter Brenda Starr) caused me to cringe with embarrassment.
Nevertheless, given Garrels' profession as a radio reporter, "Naked In Baghdad" is the perfect book to be adapted into an audio version.
Garrels is a captivating narrator and a fine journalist, with a rare ability to draw poignant stories out of ordinary people. Her observations during the breakdown of law in order in the days immediately following the fall of Saddam Hussein are also remarkably prophetic.
Just skip the Brenda Bulletins.