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Passport Stamps Arriving Soon
Preordered copies are beginning to ship
T-minus nine days and counting
If you haven’t already ordered a copy of Passport Stamps, here’s some incentive to purchase it during preorder period that ends August 15. Copies ordered and printed prior to that date are the true first printing and contain minor typos that will be corrected in copies printed (and eBooks) after August 15. So, you know you’ve got the original deal if your version says “Dorian Grey” and not “Dorian Gray,” for example. Somehow, during the pre-production process the Gray turned Grey, and that’s the way it is in the first batch.
There are some additional minor typos that we’ve caught in the last few weeks as I have been pulling excerpts to prepare for book talks and for other publications. So, hurry up and order your unique, original printing copy now! Preordered copies are beginning to ship so keep an eye on your mail as the book might be arriving before the 15th.
And the book will arrive much faster than a real passport these days!
Here’s the latest rundown of upcoming events
August 9: I am doing a web conversation with the New England chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Conversation is at 7pm and registration is through their Facebook page.
August 17: I will be doing a Headliners Book Event at the National Press Club. This is my official kickoff event, and if you are in the DC area, I beg you to attend! If you aren’t in the DC area, tell all your friends who do live here that you will never speak to them again if they do not attend! It is a ticketed event, $5 for Press Club members, $10 for non-members. Register here.
August 21: I will be on “The Source” on Texas Public Radio in the morning and then at The Twig bookstore in San Antonio that evening.
August 27: I’m back in DC at the coolest venue in the city, the Mansion on O St. If you’ve been before, you know it’s a fascinating place. If you haven’t been, this is the perfect opportunity. Buy a ticket and come for the book talk and stay to roam the mansion in search of secret doors and rooms.
In September I’ll be doing events in Massachusetts and Las Vegas, and possibly elsewhere. Stay tuned.
If you haven’t had a chance to listen, I was on NPR 1A on July 25 along with journalist Jane Ferguson who also has a memoir out about her experiences in conflict journalism. You can listen here.
Also, I was on the show again last Friday as a late substitution for the international news roundup. We discussed Ukraine and Russia, Niger, Afghanistan, Haiti, and I outed myself as an “American soccer curmudgeon,” but at least I have been following the tart cherry juice hullabaloo.
You can also read an excerpt from the chapter about my reporting trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the website current.org. It does require a registration, but it’s free.
Keep an eye out for a piece in The Atlantic adapted from a couple of chapters about reporting trips to Afghanistan.
And a reminder to please go to Amazon and Goodreads and say nice things about the book once you have finished it. Reviews help boost placement on sites and drive sales, so please help generate buzz. This whole thing does indeed take a village, so your social media posts and sharing to online groups all make a difference.
Now, to thank you for your patience in reading through this marketing message to this point, here’s a taste of what’s in the book. This snippet is from the first chapter when I was boarding a plane from Khartoum to Darfur:
I walked out onto the tarmac and approached the white-and-red Nova 737. Once I got about 50 feet from the aircraft, I had second thoughts. I could see that the plane was spent. It looked hand-painted, and there were chips and cracks all over the body.
I haltingly walked up the steps. I contemplated pulling the plug, but I had come too far to turn back just because I was about to fly on a plane that should have been grounded a decade prior.
Inside the seats were filthy, and the fabric worn, torn, and shot. Seats and overhead bins were taped and tied. It smelled like a shoe. I took my seat and tried to remember if my tetanus shot was current. I looked up and saw that the signs were written in English and Chinese. What that told me was that the plane had belonged to a Chinese airline and had been flown to the point it no longer passed Chinese standards, and then the Chinese government dumped it on Sudan.
I was the only western-looking person on the plane—all the diplomats and NGO workers were far too smart (or prohibited by their security regulations) to fly Nova. As the plane taxied to the runway and took off, I did my best to ignore the strange sounds and smells.
OK, and here’s another snippet from my first embed in Iraq in 2008 when I tagged along with a U.S. provincial reconstruction team attending a district council meeting in Baghdad:
We entered the compound through a concrete archway and stepped into the conference room. The council consisted of about 20 well-fed Iraqi men in their 50s and 60s, mostly wearing either short- or long-sleeve dress shirts with the top button open and no ties. They sat at a long, narrow conference table and the PRT members in their pixelated fatigues sat on the periphery.
The council members then discussed the conditions of things like electricity, water, and sewage in their neighborhoods and what needed attention. Whenever someone discussed a problem they could not fix, the committee turned to the American soldiers. The Iraqis asked the soldiers for $50,000 electric generators or more mundane things like office furniture and wheelbarrows. Sitting through the meeting, I got the feeling that the Iraqis viewed the soldiers as a giant ATM that could spit out money and merchandise at will.
The PRTs obliged to the greatest extent possible since the ethos at the time was that if Iraqis had better public services, then the population would support the government and be less inclined to join or support militants. It was the phase of the war when the heavy fighting had ended, and the focus was on “holding and building” or buying security through investments in governance and services.
That had been going on since the outset of the war, but the approach in the early years was much more haphazard. That period generated all the examples of the United States building expensive projects or clinics that were going unused by the Iraqis because they did not fit the community needs. By the time I arrived, the spending was smaller in scale and theoretically based on input from the Iraqis. Not only did I finally get to Iraq after all the intense fighting had ended, but I also missed the era of the epic boondoggles. Instead of seeing medical clinics filled with all sorts of unused equipment, I was watching a U.S. Army colonel confirm to an Iraqi bureaucrat that the requested wheelbarrows were on the way. Heady stuff...
Thanks again for your support, for being a Substack member, for buying the book, and for helping get the word out! I hope to see you soon at one of my events.