Former NPR foreign correspondent Anne Garrels visited Spokane on Nov. 15 to give some fundraiser for SPR, 7:30 p.m. at the Bing. She shared some of the experiences from her most recent book, Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia and shared her unique perspective on reporting and international conflicts.
Garrels began her journalism career because of an interest in Russia. Before joining NPR in 1986 she was ABC’s chief correspondent in Moscow and Central America. She went on to set up NPR’s bureau in Moscow – the first fully-functioning overseas bureau for the young radio network. She arrived in Baghdad six months before the 2003 U.S. invasion, stayed during the U.S. bombing campaign and continued to cover Iraq for the next six years.
Over a span of 20 years, Garrels followed residents of Chelyabinsk, a military-industrial center in Russia’s eastern half. She compares the industrial parts to Detroit and the nuclear military zones as Hanford.
As Garrels told Fresh Air’s Dave Davies, the areas outside of Moscow suffered near-economic collapse in the 1990s, but Putin represented prosperity and stability.
“Americans who feel they don't know where their country is going or that the country is … no longer ‘great’ – well, it was sort of the same syndrome in Russia. And most importantly, for a good 10 years, Russians lived with each passing year dramatically better than they had before,” she said in an interview when the book first came out.
Her first book, Naked in Baghdad, was a much more personal telling of her experience as one of the last Western journalists in that city during the Iraq War. For NPR, she covered conflicts and wars throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe, including Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Both books were available in the lobby during the event, courtesy of Auntie's Bookstore. Garrels autographed books after her talk and Q&A session with SPR Program Director Doug Nadvornick.