The New York Review of Magazines

Nir Rosen Has Plenty Left in His Notebook

By Ali Gharib

If you check out my profile of über-war correspondent Nir Rosen in this year’s edition of The New York Review of Magazines, you’ll pick up on a few of Rosen’s unique abilities. In a recent post on the CenterLine the new blog of New York University’s Center for Law and Security, where Rosen is a fellow — he reinforces a few familiar themes in his writing.

There’s his tendency to go to some of the world’s most dangerous spots. The before mentioned blog is drawn from Rosen’s January 2010 trip to Afghanistan, the site of a rapidly swelling U.S. and NATO war.

Rosen tends to write long.  Most blog posts are just a few paragraphs, sometimes even just a sentence or two. Rosen’s deep reporting and spirited opinions can’t be bound by these limits. In a guest post on Steve Clemons’s blog late this winter, Rosen used nearly 2,000 words to rebut a 1,300-word New York Times op-ed by Efraim Karsh. This post for the CenterLine racks up more than 2,600 words.

Rosen also hits the streets to report for his blogs. The post is full of stories from regular Afghans he talked to during his trips. It is titled “Voices from Afghanistan.” In addition to the “voices” from the war-torn country we usually get — Rosen quotes aid workers and members of parliament — we also get to hear from a Kabul baker, four bus drivers, a travel agent, and teachers attending an N.G.O.-sponsored seminar in Wardak Province.

I’m guessing the materials in the post, which is quote-heavy, are samples from the many interviews Rosen conducted that haven’t made it into either his magazine pieces or his upcoming book. In short, he’s unloading his notebook on the reader. By doing so, he’s shedding light on what Afghans from both officialdom and bakerdom think about what is going on there.

Notably absent, however, are any Westerners. Perhaps that’s because the post focuses on people “from Afghanistan,” not those who just happen to be there.

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