Welcome to the Words After War Weekly Round-Up: “Danger Close” Edition. In this space we share links relevant to our mission of improving the military-civilian dialogue through high-quality literary programming.
We are excited to invite you to our first event of the summer: “Danger Close: America after 9/11,” a conversation between writers on how 9/11 and the years that followed have shaped their lives and writing. The event will begin at 3 PM on June 29th at ACME Studio, 63 N. 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets will be available online this week. If you can’t make it to the event, please consider purchasing a ticket for somebody who can, or you can make a donation!
Masha Hamilton, Phil Klay, and Max Neely-Cohen will join me in conversation. The discussion will focus on how the domestic and international policies during the Global War on Terror uniquely impacted the way we consume media, understand war, and communicate those experiences. The discussion will also place a particular emphasis on the wartime experience of journalists, contractors, civilians, government officials, and veterans.
“Danger Close: America after 9/11” is part of an ongoing reading and discussion series that includes both veterans and civilians whose work engages with war and its aftermath.
Masha Hamilton is the author of five acclaimed novels, most recently What Changes Everything and 31 Hours. In October 2013, she finished 16 months working in Afghanistan as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy. She is currently working as Communications Director for Concern Worldwide. She also founded two world literacy projects, the Camel Book Drive and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. She began her career as a journalist, working in Maine, Indiana and New York City before being sent by the Associated Press to the Middle East, where she was news editor for five years, including the period of the first intefadeh, and then moving to Moscow, where she worked for five years during the collapse of Communism. She also reported from Kenya in 2006, and from Afghanistan in 2004 and 2008.
Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA. His story “Redeployment” was originally published in Granta and is included in Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, the New York Daily News, Tin House, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. His debut collection Redeployment was published in 2014 to wide critical acclaim.
Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s debut novel Echo of the Boom is a narrative investigation into coming of age in the shadow of 9/11 and the War On Terror. He is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where he studied military history and theory. You can find his shorter work at The New Inquiry, The Millions, and This Recording. Before his writing career he worked as a defense analyst and consultant for NGOs, defense contractors, and private companies. He lives in New York City.
Brandon Willitts, Moderator
Brandon Willitts is Executive Director and Co-founder of Words After War. Brandon joined the U.S. Navy after 9/11, where he served as an intelligence analyst on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the early months of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He later deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan between 2004 and 2005. In addition to his responsibilities with Words After War, Brandon works in the financial industry where he supports the military and veterans initiatives and communication strategy for a large financial firm. He is graduate of Marlboro College, and lives on New York City’s Upper West Side.
Join us on 6/29 at the one-of-a-kind ACME Studio for cold drinks and a fantastic discussion!
Here we go.
- Former Prisoner of War Bowe Berghdal is coming home. It’ll be a long time before we know, if we ever do, the full story of what happened during the prisoner exchange as well as the details around what led Berghdal to walk off his base. In Time Magazine, Alex Horton and Ronn Capps were interviewed and gave some much needed context to Berghdal’s release. Also, you should read Michael Hasting’s article from 2012 for Rolling Stone.
- I have stayed quiet on the VA scandal, but I’ll say this: All partisan politics aside, I believe America lost a great leader in Shinseki. And, in my opinion, I believe those in the VSO community, especially those who called for his resignation, are neither qualified to run the VA nor are they fully aware of the complexity and bureaucracy of the VA. Shinseki’s resignation proved, at least to me, to be another slight against a Vietnam generation that gave far more than they have ever received. It was a sad day for vets. Jake Siegel produced some smart coverage of the scandal for The Daily Beast.
- Check out the first 1000 words of Max Neely-Cohen’s Echo of the Boom.
- If the heat and humidity get you down this summer, hop on a quick flight to Syria. The New Republic reports that despite its civil war, the Syrian government is launching a tourism campaign (yes, seriously).
- The New Yorker has been publishing some rather fascinating espionage reportage as of late. Check out how the F.B.I. managed to crack a Chinese spy ring.
- The Los Angeles Times has the skinny on the growing rift between Amazon and book publisher Hachette. Convenience be damned, I am beginning to think twice about where I buy my books, even if it’s not always the lowest price point.
- For The New York Times, Colum McCann writes about the fragile nature of peace in Northern Ireland.
Have a good week.