The smell hit me as I stepped off the plane: Oil, diesel smog and the whiff of sulfur. Late at night and early in the morning, when the air is cleanest, this is what Baghdad smells like. As the day goes on, the odor thickens and turns metallic, until darkness falls and the fires start, filling the air with a pungent mélange of kebab and melted plastic. When I was here 10 years ago, the smell was mixed with the stench of corpses. Tomas Young, Dying Iraq War Veteran, Writes Last Letter to Bush and Cheney A week before, I'd been in a seminar room at Princeton, talking with my students about the Cold War, Don DeLillo's Underworld and Whitney Houston's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The campus outside softly exhaled magnolia. What the fuck was I doing back here? Baghdad was being hit by several car bombs a week. I didn't know anyone here. I didn't speak Arabic. I had no insurance, no security, no idea who could help me if I got kidnapped or injured; it was late April. The country was gearing up for a divisive election and falling into a civil war. I had no idea… Read full this story
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