Rory Stewart, the internationally acclaimed travel writer, Afghanistan expert and former Iraq diplomat will deliver a lecture entitled “History, Travel, Politics, and Intervention
” on 9 April at 5pm in Room 202 of the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Building on the campus of the University of Arizona (1130 North Mountain Avenue). Stewart’s visit to Tucson is sponsored by the UA History Department. From 2000 to 2002, Stewart trekked six thousand miles across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Iran, and Afghanistan. He reached the Afghan city of Herat just after the US invasion. As the Taliban clung to southern portions of the country, Stewart set off on a 36-day eastward trudge to Kabul across mine-studded, snowy mountain passes accompanied by Babur, a retired Afghan fight dog, and (sometimes) by the Kalashnikov-wielding minions of local warlords.
Stewart chronicled his Afghan journey in a bestselling memoir, The Places in Between (2004), which the New York Times hailed as a “flat-out masterpiece” whose author “writes with a mystic's appreciation of the natural world, a novelist's sense of character and a comedian's sense of timing.” Stewart served in the Black Watch infantry regiment and studied history at Balliol College, Oxford, before joining the British Foreign Office. After postings in Indonesia and the Balkans, Stewart abandoned his diplomatic career in 2000 to “walk the circumference of the world” (as the Times of London then noted of his early retirement).
In 2003, Stewart lobbied for a post in occupied Iraq. At age thirty, he became the acting governor of two southern provinces. Stewart would recount his Iraq misadventures in Prince of the Marshes (2006), a devastating portrait of modern empire building that the Sunday Telegraph chose as a Book of the Year.
In 2009, Stewart became Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights and Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University. In 2010 he was elected to Parliament as Member for Penrith and the Border, a region in northwest England near Scotland.