Conserving Lands Great and Small

By  GERALDINE BROOKS

Lloyd Raleigh is bent double, trying to negotiate his way through a dense thicket of catbriar in the moist wetands of Brookside Farm. As thorns entangle his jacket, a soup of leaf mold and sphagnum moss sucks his boots deeper into the mud.

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$100 and a Dream

How to turn a modest gift into a dynamic little nonprofit, 28 scholarships, dozens of changed lives, and counting…

The letter from Texas had taken a couple of months to find its way to my desk in Cairo. Inside was a $100 bill and a brief note.

Every so often in journalism, something you write touches readers, and they feel moved to help. Usually, I was delighted when that happened, but this time my reaction was weary and ungenerous.

Getting the money to the intended recipient wasn’t going to be easy. It meant another trip into violence and danger. For a minute or two, I thought about sending the money back to Texas.

In December of 1987, a Palestinian teenager stoned my car as I drove alone through the West Bank. I was new in my job as The Wall Street Journal’s Mideast correspondent, and my editor had asked me to get an interview with one of the youths involved in the uprising that had suddenly erupted in Israel’s occupied territories. So I jumped from my damaged car and chased after the boy, whose face was wrapped in a red-checked headscarf. We ended up spending the afternoon together in the crumbling four-room, raw-concrete hovel he shared with 12 younger siblings, and I subsequently wrote an article about an intelligent 15-year-old named Raed who wanted to be a doctor but knew there was no hope of such a future for a boy in his circumstances. Instead, he was willing to die, fighting with stones.

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What would Mohammed do?

Geraldine Brooks, an expert on the role of women in Islam, says the “haters of beauty” behind the Miss World riots misrepresent what is a “pro-sexuality” religion.
BY LAURA MCCLURE

Two weeks ago, a Nigerian fashion writer’s throwaway remark — that Mohammed would have approved of the Miss World pageant and probably would have chosen a wife from among the contestants — sparked riots that killed 220 people, left thousands homeless and earned the author, Isioma Daniel, a fatwa.

By and large, the West found this imbroglio baffling, and many immediately blamed Islam. But the religion, to those who know it, is anything but strait-laced. Islam produced Rumi, a 13th century Sufi mystic and poet who wrote verses such as, “When someone quotes the old poetic image about clouds gradually uncovering the moon, slowly loosen knot by knot the strings of your robe.” Nowhere in the Koran does it say adulterers should be stoned. Nowhere does it say that women should be completely covered.

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The Writing Life

The bookshelves of my Australian childhood were garrisoned by foreign troops, filled with stories by faraway English people who wrote of things I couldn’t see or touch or know: A.A. Milne, Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis; The Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, The Snow Goose. These were good books, but they came between me and my country. Australia had been an independent nation since 1901, but in the 1960s, my imagination was still a British colony.

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The feminist queen of the Middle East

World leaders rush to pay tribute to King Hussein, but his widow, Queen Noor, deserves much of the credit for Jordan’s transformation from police state to cradle of political freedom.
BY GERALDINE BROOKS

The obituaries were praising him even before he died: King Hussein, the Arableader who made a modern nation from an impoverished patch of desert, whoturned a warrior’s bravery into the courage of a peacemaker.

It isn’t so surprising that these emotive eulogies have poured from thepens of usually hard-bitten journalists. The king was an unfailinglycourteous man — accessible, open and direct in a region whose leaders typically are secretive, remote and dishonest.

But most of these tributes breezed over the one remarkable thing hedid that may have influenced the style of modern Jordan more than any otherpeacetime decision.

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The Book of Exodus

A double rescue in wartime Sarajevo.

By Geraldine Brooks

When the Axis powers conquered and divided Yugoslavia, in the spring of 1941, Sarajevo did not fare well. The city cradled by mountains that Rebecca West once described as like “an opening flower” suddenly found itself absorbed into the Nazi puppet state of Croatia, its tolerant, cosmopolitan culture crushed by the invading German Army and the Croatian Fascist Ustashe. Hitler’s ally, Ante Pavelic, who had headed the Ustashe through the nineteen-thirties, proclaimed that his new state must be “cleansed” of Jews and Serbs: “Not a stone upon a stone will remain of what once belonged to them.”

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