Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq – Rory Stewart

Occupational Hazards is Rory Stewart’s personal account of his time working in the Western teams responsible for governing two provinces in Iraq during 2003 and 2004, a period when the Coalition Provisional Authority sought to bring sufficient stability to the country to allow for a successful handover to an Iraqi government.

I’d been wanting to read this ever since The Places In Between brought about the realisation that the author isn’t the traditional Oxbridge generated diplomat, but rather an independent thinker who brings a deep understanding and innate sympathy for the people and cultures he encounters. Not that this makes him a soft touch, as his accounts of political wheeler dealing with the tribes of Marsh Arabs of Maysan, and brushes with death during the attacks at Nasiriyah reveal.

An enlightening read, and a powerful first hand account of events that news reports and government statements made seem anodyne, remote and impersonal; the reality of war rather than the spin and an attempt to show just how complex the political, religious and social landscape in the region was, and is.

Amazon.co.uk link: Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq – Rory Stewart

The Places In Between – Rory Stewart

The Places in Between describes Rory Stewart‘s walk from Herat to Kabul, over the mountains, rather than via the valleys and Khandahar, following in the footsteps of Moghul Emperor and empire builder Babur.

It is a fascinating read about the remote mountainous places and peoples of Afghanistan, in the months after the fall of the Taliban in 2002, and beautifully written. All in all it makes me more inclined to read Occupational Hazards Rory Stewart’s account of his time as governer in post-invasion Iraq – I’d not realised he was one and the same, enlightened chap.

Amazon.co.uk link: The Places in Between – Rory Stewart