Joshua Hammer is a former Newsweek Bureau Chief and ­Correspondent-at-Large in Africa and the Middle East. His most ­recent book is The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.
 (November 2016)


Iraq: The Terrible Battle for Mosul

Iraqi civilians fleeing from the ISIS-controlled towns of Shirqat and Gwer, which Iraqi and Kurdish forces were attempting to recapture as part of the Mosul offensive, July 2016
The Islamic State has had two years to prepare for the assault, and according to Iraqi intelligence it has created formidable defenses against any attack. Between six and nine thousand ISIS fighters are inside the city, few of whom, presumably, would be prepared to surrender. “In Mosul,” a US diplomat told me, “it will be a fight to the death.”

Can Germany Cope with the Refugees?

Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in temporary housing at the former Tempelhof Airport, Berlin, February 2016

Germany’s Response to the Refugee Situation: Remarkable Leadership or Fait Accompli?

a report by Matthias M. Mayer in Newpolitik, Bertelsmann Foundation, May 2016, available at

The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis

by Patrick Kingsley
In June I visited Tempelhof Airport in the heart of Berlin, once a showpiece of the Nazi regime and the site of the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949. The airport stopped operating eight years ago; but in December, with eight hundred Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and other “unofficial immigrants” pouring into the …

The Nepal Catastrophe

The remains of the Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu, four days after the earthquake, April 2015


by Thomas Bell

Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal

by Prashant Jha
A few minutes before noon on April 25, 2015, the Great Himalayan Thrust, a fault line between the Indian and Eurasian continental plates, ruptured deep beneath Gorkha district, fifty miles northwest of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. The sudden slippage caused an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale that sent …

Betrayal in Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi

The Rebel of Rangoon: A Tale of Defiance and Deliverance in Burma

by Delphine Schrank
In late 2010, I traveled to Myanmar—formerly known as Burma—the resource-rich country of 52 million people bordered by China, Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand that had been blighted for decades by brutal repression and squandered opportunity. After seizing power from a civilian government in 1962, a military junta plundered the treasury, …

The Rule of Boko Haram

Children who escaped Boko Haram attacks in Michika and Cameroon, Adamawa State, Nigeria, January 2015

Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria’s Unholy War

by Mike Smith
In early May, during the final days of the hot, dry season, I flew to Yola, the capital of Adamawa State in eastern Nigeria and an apparent safe haven from the Boko Haram insurgency. Over the past year, the radical Islamic fighters had taken over large swaths of territory in three northeastern Nigerian states, killing thousands, conscripting many young men, and kidnapping and raping young women and girls. But after a series of defeats at the hands of the insurgents, the Nigerian army had begun pushing them back.

The Very Tricky Trial of the Khmer Rouge

Victims of the Khmer Rouge regime protesting outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to demand individual reparations, Phnom Penh, October 2014
Last October the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) convened in Phnom Penh to resume what many regard as the most important international criminal prosecution since the Nuremberg trials. Currently on trial are the two highest-ranking surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Khieu Samphan, the onetime chief of …

The Terrible War for Sri Lanka

Tamil boys at a refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Sri Lankan town of
Vavuniya during a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, May 2009

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

a film by Callum Macrae

Noontide Toll

by Romesh Gunesekera
The Nanthi Kadal lagoon, a waist-high body of water extending for four miles along the northeast coast of Sri Lanka, bears few traces of the battle that took place here a little more than five years ago. Herons fly low over tidal flats and islets covered with sea grass. Palmyra …


Will Tunisia Become Less Secular?

Tunisian women at a meeting for the Ennahda party, Tunis, April 17, 2011

Outside Tunis one afternoon last week I visited the Tunisian American Association for Management Studies, which offers vocational training and literacy courses to working-class women. A sewing class had just ended, and the participants—a dozen girls and women between the ages of fifteen and fifty, most of them wearing headscarves—agreed to talk about the country’s first democratic election, scheduled to take place on October 23. In recent weeks, polls have showed that Ennahda (Renaissance), an Islamist party banned by the dictatorship of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is poised to win about one third of the vote. Ennahda’s leaders insist that if they win they will respect equal rights for men and women and maintain a division between Islam and the state. Still, they are widely distrusted.