Peace Meals: A War Reporter's Journey, with Friends, Feasts, and Candy-Wrapped Kalashnikovs

Anna Badkhen, Free Press, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4391-6648-2
"What happens when a search for stories coincides with a search for food?" asks Russian-born journalist Badkhen in her first book. In a series of broadly linked personal narratives, she illuminates the strange, dark history of the past couple of decades—the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and drought-stricken East Africa. Most chapters chronicle her connections with particular individuals such as her hashish-addicted Afghan bodyguard or the pair of ordinary Iraqi women she befriends, each character providing insight into local customs and quirks, but more significantly, illustrates and humanizes regional complexities. Badkhen regularly encounters real danger, but meets it with compassion and graveyard humor. Each section concludes, somewhat sentimentally, with recipes for dishes described in the stories. At times the juxtaposition of the brutal and the domestic is abrupt, but the resulting range of events both large and small is both honest and real. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/23/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-4391-6650-5
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4391-6663-5
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