Author(s): Neil MacFarquhar
Since his boyhood in Qadhafi's Libya, Neil MacFarquhar has developed a counterintuitive sense that the Middle East, despite all the bloodshed in its recent history, is a place of warmth, humanity, and generous eccentricity. In this book, he introduces a cross-section of unsung, dynamic men and women pioneering political and social change. There is the Kuwaiti sex therapist in a leather suit with matching red headscarf, and the Syrian engineer advocating a less political interpretation of the Koran. MacFarquhar interacts with Arabs and Iranians in their every day lives, removed from the violence we see constantly, yet wrestling with the region's future. These are people who realise their region is out of step with the world and are determined to do something about it-on their own terms.
Neil MacFarquhar served as New York Times Cairo bureau chief from 2001 through 2005 and is now its UN bureau chief. His Mideast expertise predates his Cairo assignment: he grew up in Libya and covered the region for the AP, including stints in Israel and Kuwait. An Arabic speaker, his expertise in the region has led to appearances ranging from national television news to the Tribeca Film Festival. He is the author of a novel, The Sand Cafe (PublicAffairs), about Gulf war correspondents marooned in a Saudi hotel.