First published in The Daily Telegraph by Nigel Fandale on 11 June 2016. Rory Stewart, diplomat, adventurer and modern-day Lawrence of Arabia, has trekked solo through Afghanistan, come under siege while a deputy governor in Iraq and is about to set out on another hazardous mission. Is the man mad? asks Nigel Fandale It’s not the […]


Interview first published on in 2006. Rory Stewart has covered a lot of ground—figuratively and literally. He spent sixteen months on his feet traversing Iran, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. He then embarked on the second stage of his walking tour: crossing Afghanistan from Herāt to Kabul. The Places in Between captures his experiences on that […]

Losing the South

First published in Prospect Magazine, 1 November, 2005. Is southern Iraq only hell with flies? September’s image of a British soldier bathed in flames as he tumbled from his tank seemed to symbolise a state of anarchy, spawned by the coalition and dominated by Iranian-funded terrorist militias. The reality is less bleak, but still unsettling. […]

Great expectations

Article first published in The Guardian on 8 January 2005. Four new biographies suggest that the more we write about Alexander the Great, the less we understand him. Alexander the Great: The Death of a God by Paul Doherty 256pp, Constable, £17.99 Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past by Paul Cartledge 384pp, […]

The Looting of Turquoise Mountain

First published in The New York Times In a deserted maze of narrow gorges in the central mountains of Afghanistan, I turned a corner and saw a tower. It rose 200 feet, a slim column of intricately carved terra cotta set with a line of turquoise tiles. There was nothing else. The mountain walls formed […]


First published in the London Review of Books on 11 July 2002. When Ali brought out his Koran I thought of Tony Blair. It was February 2002. The Taliban had retreated, having burned Ali’s village to the ground. Four feet of snow had closed the passes into Bamiyan and all the roads were laid with […]


First published in Granta on 28 June 2002. ‘Dervish are an abomination,’ said Navaid. ‘What do you mean by a Dervish?’ I asked. ‘Dervish? Don’t you know? It’s a very old concept. Fakir? Pir-Baba? Sufi? Silsilah Malang—that beggar doing magic tricks…?’ Navaid was staring at a man who was sitting cross-legged in the street with […]

Iranian Girls

First published in Prospect Magazine, 1 November, 2001. They are not free because their minds are not free,” said the headmistress, introducing me to my first class. “You are not here only to teach them English, you are here to open their minds.” Ten women were seated around a table in the over-heated room. All […]

West Papua/Indonesia

First published in the London Review of Books, July 2000. Caleb held a bundle of arrows in his left hand and a bow and single arrow in his right. His mother was holding her torn ears between her thumbs and forefingers. Her chin was on her bare chest. Her legs were coated with grey mud. […]