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Noted author will speak on his year in Iraq

Submitted by Doreen Fitzgerald
Phone: 5042

02/21/08

Author Rory Stewart will speak about his experiences in Iraq at a free public presentation in Fairbanks on Wednesday, March 5, at the Davis Concert Hall, University of Alaska Fairbanks. The 7 p.m. talk will focus on Stewart's 2006 book, The Prince of the Marshes: and Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq. It outlines his experiences as deputy governor of the Iraqi province of Maysan and Senior Advisor in the province of Dhi Qar shortly after coalition forces entered Iraq, and it describes his struggles to establish a functional government in these regions.

Stewart was 30 years old when he took a taxi from Jordan to Baghdad in August of 2003. A Farsi-speaking British diplomat, he spent the next eleven months negotiating hostage releases, holding elections, and splicing together some semblance of an infrastructure for a population of millions teetering on the brink of civil war.

After working for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq and in the British Foreign Service, Stewart was awarded the Order of the British Empire. In 2004-2005 he was a Fellow at The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University, where his research focused on the coalition administration in Iraq and explored how colonial administrators ran Iraq in the 1920s. Stewart's appearance in Fairbanks is part of the University of Alaska "Sharing Voices" lecture series and is presented by the UA Geography Program, UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. The presentation is made possible by ConocoPhillips and BP, and supported by the University of Alaska Office of Academic Affairs, and the UAF Office of Public History.

Stewart is a Scottish writer who was born in Hong Kong in 1973, then raised in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Scotland. At Balliol College, Oxford, he studied history and philosophy before spending a brief period as an officer in the British infantry. After joining the British Foreign Office, he served in the British embassy in Indonesia from 1997 to 1999 and then, in the wake of the Kosovo campaign. as the British representative to Montenegro.

From 2000-2002 Stewart walked across Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey of 6000 miles. His first book, The Places in Between, describes his experiences in Afghanistan and how he survived by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. This account was listed by the New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of 2006. It won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, a Scottish Arts Council prize and the Spirit of Scotland award. It also was adapted into a radio play by Benjamin Yeoh that was broadcast in 2007 on BBC Radio 4.

Stewart currently lives in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he is the Chief Executive of The Turquoise Mountain Foundation, which is investing in the regeneration of the historic commercial centre of Kabul, providing basic services, saving historic buildings and constructing a new bazaar and galleries for traditional craft businesses.

For more information contact:
Katie Kennedy, UA Geography Program at 474-7494
e-mail: katie.kennedy@alaska.edu