So here I was wondering whether or not I'd be able to come up with an interesting blog entry that required virtually no input from me when I get an email from Charles Clover asking if I'd mind linking to the web site he's been putting together to chronicle, as he puts it, his "more interesting assignments for the Financial Times." Charles, as I've no doubt noted before, is one of my favorite fellows. He offers up that rare and wondrous combination of being disarmingly intelligent and yet delightfully goofy when the mood strikes.
Like most people I know, he holds a degree in Arabic from the University of Wisconsin, studied at the University of Jordan at Amman as a Fullbright Scholar and went on to get his MA at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Sometimes, sitting near Charles, I am daunted by the volume of knowledge I know is rooted in his cranium and I have no idea what to say to him.
And then he'll quote an episode of Friends and I think that maybe we are from the same planet after all.
The web site Charlie's put together includes diary entries and articles (sometimes, the former becomes the latter) from the past few years. In 2002, he spent most of the year in Afghanistan, before going on to cover the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004 as an embedded journalist and then as the FT's Baghdad Bureau. Most recently, he served as the Middle East/Africa editor at the FT in London. The articles that result from those experiences are a mixed bag. Some of them are so dense with information that my little brain can hardly keep up. Some of them are infused with Charles' obvious passion about the people and the places he's covered.
As a special treat, CC Lover (as he's been nicknamed at KWF for no reason whatsoever), has also provided a large and fascinating collection of photographs that feel like an insider's glimpse into the uncensored reality of the Middle East, war time, lives of soldiers. Scroll down and browse through them. It's a far more intimate feel than anything you'll get from the evening news.
Check it out at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cclover/.