January 20, 2008

City Journal

The editors at City Journal asked me to write a Fallujah story for them, and I’m wrapping that up as fast as I can so I can get back to blogging. I apologize for the delay here, but I don’t make enough money from the blog to pay for travel expenses and a mortgage, etc. It’s still a good deal for you, though, even with the delay, because you can read the City Journal essay for free when it becomes available online.

I’ve been reading the Internet version of that magazine for years, and I finally decided to subscribe to the print version. My first issue arrived in the mail recently. I have to say (but they aren’t paying me or even asking me to say this) that it’s the finest-looking magazine I have ever subscribed to. I can hardly wait to see my own story in its lovely pages. The production values are absolutely first rate. That alone makes it worth paying for. Those of you who like hard copies of my stories (hi Mom) might want to sign up.

Incidentally, did you know Christopher Hitchens has a new book out? I didn't until I read the review in that magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2008 11:05 PM
Comments

Hi Michael!

Did you read what Bill Whittle had to say about you at the end of his latest essay?

"And if hope catches hold and finds a way to grow in that arid and distant land, then I would like to live long enough to see David Petraeus, Michael Yon and Michael Totten standing on a podium in the Rose Garden under an administration I could then afford not to care too much about, and watch as they lower their heads and the President of the United States – whoever that may be – puts the Medal of Freedom around their necks.

For win or lose, they have earned it. "

Wow. Amen Brother

Posted by: TimB52 Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 10:21 AM

Yes. (Blushes.) I saw that and thanked him very sincerely for it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 10:24 AM

I particularly enjoy Theodore Dalrymple's articles in the City Journal

http://www.city-journal.org/author_index.php?author=47

Posted by: wronski Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 12:51 PM

WOW!

"Brothers at War, and the writings of Michael Yon, Michel Totten and precious few others, are worth entire divisions."

Whittle's essay is pretty powerful stuff.

Also, that's a funny video of prisoner interrogation.

Posted by: Tom in Texas Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 6:29 PM

The question is when YOU are going to put out a new book. You are the most engaging writer on Iraq I have read, and I would love to see your reports collected into a book (and at the top of the NYT bestseller list).

It would help so many learn the candid facts about the situation in Iraq, too...

So, when are you going to put out a book?

Posted by: gideon1789 Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 7:30 PM

Gideon1789: So, when are you going to put out a book?

I do (seriously) expect to begin writing a book this year. It will not only be about Iraq. I will include Lebanon and Israel, and I hope to include trips to Afghanistan and Iran, which are next on my list of places to go.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 21, 2008 8:50 PM

Do you know if you can get into Iran? I know the Lebanese are more paranoid about Syria, but I would expect Iran to have you on the same lists Syria has you on.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 12:48 AM

I've heard from a reliable source that Iran is loosening up and letting hostile journalists in. Their theory is that Iran isn't as nasty a place as people think it is, so they'll get something out of letting even hostile journalists in if they're surprised by how "normal" it is.

I already know, though, that Iran isn't as nasty a place as people think it is. I've already factored that in. Most of the Middle East like that. Even Iraq is like that, to an extent. (Not that Iraq is a nice place. It isn't.)

Egypt is a surprising exception to that rule, at least for me. It is a whole lot creepier than I expected.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 1:26 AM

I don't know if I am actually on a Syrian blacklist. Supposedly they don't really care if you call them bloody killers. What really pisses them off (so I've heard from someone who lives there) is if you write that the state is weak and that sort of thing. Or if you are Jewish. A Jewish friend of mine was rejected for a TOURIST visa last week.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 1:29 AM

I've heard that Syrian customs agents are very suspicious of Westerners with new passports, or people who have travelled to the Middle East before, because they suspect that these tourists may have visited Israel.

I wonder if they'd let Dave M at Harry's Place back?

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 11:10 AM

That is outstanding, Mr. Totten. I cannot wait to buy your book for myself and others, and help spread the word.

Thank you again for everything.

Posted by: gideon1789 Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 11:53 AM

I don't suppose I can post that news about your soon-to-be-started book on my website and a few others, can I? I'd like to get the word going around the various blogs and create a "buzz" as they say...

But if you don't want it announced, I will refrain. Just say the word either way.

Thanks again.

Posted by: gideon1789 Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 11:59 AM

Gideon,

I haven't even started writing the book yet, so it's way too early to create any buzz. Let's hold off for a while. But I appreciate the offer to help. Thanks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 22, 2008 12:57 PM

Looks like an excellent recommendation - I subscribed for a year's worth (4 issues) for starters.

Thank you. For that and all your efforts.

Posted by: Aram Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 1:07 AM

I think you should write first, NOW (2007 is better), then travel more, later.

For your pocket. This is an election year, your insights into the real Iraq are very relevant NOW.

You already have more than enough material -- your great Lebanon stuff is getting old, and Israeli stuff is really old already (tho Egypt is probably still quite relevant...)

You'll be losing $10 - $50 000 in royalties (my GUESStimate) if you don't publish a small book by June, 2008.

Of course, I've wanted your book for many years now.

On Hitch's point about Thomas Paine, the Amazon review notes:
"[Paine] didn't see that ideologically driven revolution would lead to tyranny."

I believe that any "no-God" based human gov't will lead to tyranny, because there will be none higher than the highest human -- so Hitch fails to see that any godless revolution leads to tyranny. Of course, many god-based revolutions have, too.

I don't think you've commented about the pro-life stands of any Muslims you have met. Do you not talk about it? Is this deliberate on your part?

Almost every elected Muslim leader is pro-life, I think. I know my pro-life wife got Muslim support at the UN Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995; New York 2000).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at January 23, 2008 10:13 AM

Tom;
I worry a lot about people who see Iraq and the ME just in terms of whether they're potential recruits for their own issues, and look for matching hobby horses as a measure of worthiness.

This is severe political ethnocentrism and is guaranteed to misrepresent the priorities of the area, and lead to wildly inaccurate projections of events and rejection by the locals as an irrelevant and interfering outside influence.

But if the issue is of primary importance to you, perhaps this is a risk you're willing to take.

Posted by: Brian H Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 3:42 PM
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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