Sunday, March 16, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday: Naked in Baghdad

Naked in Baghdad, by Anne Garrels

Okay, if you've looked through some of these posts lately, you'll notice that I have a thing for NPR. It's been that way for a long time. Working there is still one of my dream jobs (along with full-time writer, general counsel for a totally law-abiding company, and just about any of the recurring roles on The West Wing).

One of the things I love about Naked in Baghdad is that it reminds me that, while working for NPR may happen someday, I'm never going to be a war correspondent. (Yes, I do occasionally need the reminder.)

Other reviews: Bookloons, A Modest Construct, Curled Up With a Good Book

Meet the author: NPR bio

What stuck with me: I can't say enough great things about this book. I will say that I listened to the audio version, so my take on the book is shaped by listening to Garrels and her husband Vint Lawrence read their respective sections. Both of them have a wonderful way with words, along with just the right touch of sarcasm and irony.

Naked in Baghdad also makes me want to re-learn Russian, which the non-Arabic-speaking Garrels was able to fall back on again and again. Not that I expect to spend a lot of time in countries that were once supported by the Soviet bloc, but you never know.
Where this book is going next: My copy, being audio, isn't going anywhere. But there are two types of people I recommend the book to - those who want to read about the Iraq war, and potential journalists.

Makes me want to read: Thomas Ricks' Fiasco has been on my TBR list for a long time, along with Imperial Life in the Emerald City. I also want to read The Punishment of Virtue, another book with an NPR connection.

Makes me want to reread: Noah Adams' All Things Considered.

Bonus: I didn't think about it when I set out to write this review, but this weekend marks the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In the New York Times, there's a retrospective by John Burns, who makes a few appearances in Naked in Baghdad. The Washington Post's book section is also devoted to war analysis this week.

The Non-Fiction Monday roundup is at Picture Book of the Day.


Mary said...

Dear Sarah,

Your blog has a lovely voice. I too loved Anne Garrels' book Naked in Baghdad. I heard her speak at a Vermont Public radio event here in Vermont, and her husband accompanied her. I loved when Anne told the story of how the book got its title.

I've dreamed of being on NPR too. Why don't you contact your Connecticut public radio folks and pitch some commentary to them?


Sarah Rettger said...

Thanks, Mary! I've never really thought about writing for NPR when I'm putting together short pieces, but I'll definitely keep that in mind.

Down here in Ridgefield, we're very much enjoying your tales of farming - so far it's kept us from adding a chicken coop to our very suburban yard!

mary said...

Sarah -- you are in Ridgefield?? You don't know a lovely woman named Anne with three kids down there? She's my sister.

You all need to figure out how to use all those deer for something useful!!

Would you town ordinances allow farm animals? Maybe you could dress a kitchen cow up to look like a deer? Like the little dog in Dr. Seuss's Grinch had those nifty antlers?

Sarah Rettger said...

I do, in fact, know your sister - we live in the same neighborhood, and Matt and my youngest brother have been friends for years.

I think we could technically get away with some livestock under the town regs, but Mom's decided to content herself with beekeeping. Much less marital discord over insects, as opposed to vertebrates!