Dexter Filkins – ‘The Forever War’

This book was one of the top five books published in 2008.

Here are my questions:

Hi Dexter,

As every civilian reader must tell you, I’m amazed you are still alive. I’m amazed more reporters have not been killed.

* What do you sense is the attitude towards the news media among Al Qaeda and ilk and why haven’t they killed more of you? They must see you as instrumental to their purposes and which means they must see you to some extent as impartial and non-American/British/ Australian?

* I am Jewish and dream of doing what you are doing. Are many of your reporter peers in Afghanistan/Iraq Jewish and does this pose additional threats to their safety (do they try to hide it?)?

* I assume you don’t engage in metaphysics about evil (am I wrong?). It seems to me from reading your book that evil exists and you have seen it. What does it look like? Does it leave a mark on the face of those who practice it? Or is "evil" just a religious thing?

Dexter Filkins replies to my questions:

Dear Luke:

Hi, sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I am in Afghanistan and it’s hard here.

Thank you so much for your nice words about my book. I really grateful. And yes, I’m very lucky to still standing. I think I have gone through my nine lives more than a few times.

As to your questions:

1. On Al Qaeda–I am assuming you mean Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is a different animal than the HQ in Pakistan/Afghanistan. I don’t know what their attitude is towards the press. But they [could] hardly be more murderous—in general, of course, but also towards the press. More than 150 reporters have been killed in Iraq, making it the bloodiest war in its way ever. That is more than were killed in WWII and in Vietnam. We are targets.

2. Some of my colleagues are Jewish, yes. I can’t really speak for them but yes, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, being Jewish, by itself, can be very dangerous indeed. But a lot of them are still here carrying on.

3. Well, as for evil, I am not sure I have seen the thing itself, but I have certainly seen what it does. I have been to car bombings and suicide bombings, and to the homes of families–American, Iraqi, Afghan–who have lost family and friends. Evil hurts people in every way it can. It is very sad to see.

I hope this helps. Thank you so much again.



About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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