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Act 2: Emails from a Dead Man

To get a sense of what may be broken about our process for bringing these Iraqis into the US, the ones who worked with US forces and who believe their lives are now in danger because of that, Kirk Johnson tells Nancy Updike about one guy. Almost a year of his emails were forwarded to Kirk, who printed them out and started to realize that he was looking at a dead man’s attempt to immigrate to the U.S.

Act 1: Reluctant Sailor

Kirk sleepwalks through an open window and into a completely different life. He explains how he starts compiling a list of Iraqis who’d worked with the U.S. government after the invasion, whose lives were now in danger because of that.

Act 3: Put on a Happy Face

In 2008, reporter Chris Neary told the story of John, a soldier who returned from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan with severe PTSD, and ended up attacking his fiancee and her mother. Chris finds out how John is coping today.

Act 4: What's Arabic for Fjord?

The podcast and stream versions of the show include a story here that is not included in broadcast. It catches us up with an Iraqi translator named Basim, who fled the country to Norway after his life was threatened because he aided the American forces.

Act 1: Act One

Ever wondered what you might do with 18 days of rest after serving 15 months in combat? Reporter David Finkel followed one group of soldiers in Iraq for 15 months, and reported all of it in his book The Good Soldiers. Here is our radio version of one of the chapters in his book, where we hear actors read aloud what soldiers and families of soldiers told David about their break.

Act 2: Act Two

Last summer when Nancy Updike was reporting in Iraq, Sarah, an Iraqi woman in her 40s, was her interpreter. But it wasn't the first time Sarah had had that gig.


Host Ira Glass speaks with reporter Larry Kaplow and producer Nancy Updike, who spent a month in Iraq as the US combat mission was ending, in August 2010, talking to Iraqis. They play excerpts from a conversation they had with a Shiite professor—who had pizza recently with a Sunni friend, and realized just how tense things still are in Iraq.

Act 1: What Just Happened?

To understand where we are today in Iraq, we tell the story of one Iraqi, Saad Oraibi Ghaffouri Al-Obeidi, also known as Abu Abed—a man who fought alongside the US during the surge, and is now in exile—and what he saw, and was part of, over seven years of the war.

Act 2: Politics as Usual

Larry and Nancy head to Diyala Province north of Baghdad, and meet with a mayor and a member of the provincial council—like a state legislature—to see why is politics in Iraq utterly stalled.

Additional This American Life Stories On The War in Iraq

Private Contractors True Number of Iraqi Deaths Lessons Learned in the War Soldiers' Stories Soldier Bloggers A House in Baghdad Citizen-Diplomat Tries to End the War Two Random Guys Try to Help Trying to Rebuild Iraq Start of the War And on the aftermath: Talk to an Iraqi - from TV series Sam Slaven

Act 3: Pickens County

Allen Wigington, former Chief Deputy at the Pickens County Sheriff's department, now magistrate judge, tells the story a soldier killed in Iraq—Specialist David Collins—arriving back home in Georgia to be buried.

Act 2: Brothers from Another Planet

Sara Blaisdell tells the story of a group of Iraqi brothers whom her husband Sam befriended over the internet, and has been speaking with weekly for almost seven years. Their surprisingly intimate relationship has pulled Sam into a world that few Americans can access.

Act 2: Be Careful Who You Love

The story of a famous but not well-understood political fall guy, someone who became a scapegoat for American policies worldwide. Philip Gourevitch writes about listening to nine hours of interviews with Lynndie England, the American servicewoman photographed at Abu Ghraib prison holding a leash with a naked, Iraqi prisoner on the end of it.

Act 1: And So We Meet Again

Sam Slaven is an Iraq War veteran who came home from the War plagued by feelings of hate and anger toward Muslims. TAL producer Lisa Pollak tells the story of the unusual action Sam took to change himself, and the Muslim students who helped him do it.


Dal LaMagna, millionaire and creator of the Tweezerman tweezer, prepares to go to Iraq on a diplomatic mission he invented for himself—despite concern (and mocking) from his own sister.

Act 1: Man Of Lamagna

Dal LaMagna made a fortune selling high-quality grooming products. And after retiring, he wanted to do some good in the world.

Act 2: Second Half Prologue

Ira speaks with Milt Hileman of the Center for Army Lessons Learned about the single most-requested publication they put out, Soldiers' Handbook: The First 100 Days: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. It explains how to avoid getting killed in your first hundred days in Iraq, which is when a disproportionate number of U.S. casualties occur.