Kirk W. Johnson on To Be a Friend Is Fatal | Tantorious

Tantorious is a semi-monthly podcast series featuring interviews with well-known authors, hosted by Allan Hoving and presented by Tantor Audio.

Kirk W. Johnson’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Foreign Policy. His book, To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind, is a searching exploration of America’s moral obligations to those Iraqis who stepped forward to help our diplomats, soldiers, and aid workers. He also narrates the audiobook.



Excerpts from the audio interview:

Q: How did you come to this subject?

A: I had been studying Arabic and the Middle East in college and graduated shortly after 9/11. I was living in Egypt during the invasion of Iraq – which I had opposed – but felt an ethical obligation to try to help with the reconstruction.

Q: What is the central message of the book?

A: I wanted to introduce a group of extraordinary Iraqis who stepped forward — as interpreters, engineers, doctors — to act as a bridge between the United States and the people of Iraq because they had hope for what the toppling of Saddam might bring to their country. Regrettably, they became looked upon as traitors, and they’ve essentially been abandoned. There are tens of thousands, and their story hasn’t been told.

Listen to a sample of the Tantor audiobook edition of To Be A Friend is Fatal, narrated by Kirk W. Johnson.

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