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Author and United Nations bureau chief for the New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar, discusses the case for change in the Middle East, April 8, 2010.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY— Author Neil MacFarquhar, a former New York Times' Middle East correspondent and the current New York Times' United Nations bureau chief, will discuss “Happy Birthday from Hizbollah: The Case for Change in the Middle East” on Thursday, April 8. The program is presented by the Religion Department and is the annual Frederic C. Wood Lecture at Vassar College. Free and open to the public, the lecture will begin at 5:30pm in Sanders Classroom Spitzer Auditorium (room 212).
Neil MacFarquhar grew up in Libya, or at least a walled stretch of it sometimes called “Texas on the Mediterranean.”  He returned as a correspondent to explore the other side of that wall, spending 13 years covering the rich collage of countries and peoples reaching from Tehran to Marrakesh, most recently for the New York Times.
The author of two books, MacFarquhar’s most recent, The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East, was named a “Best Book of 2009” by both the Washington Post and Barnes & Noble. In the book he addresses the lives of the men and women trying to make a difference in the Middle East against terrible odds—not least because extremist violence invariably overshadows their efforts. Chefs, bloggers, and brewers struggle to transform the region on their own terms, their stories challenging countless assumptions in the West— for example, far more fatwas are issued to give business or sexual advice than to condemn people to death. His novel, The Sand Café (2006), is a satiric look at an unruly group of foreign correspondents mired in a Saudi hotel waiting for a war that never seems to start.
MacFarquhar holds a BA degree in international political economy from Stanford University. His website is http://www.neilmacfarquhar.com.
The lecture is co-sponsored by Vassar's Africana Studies Program and the Department of Political Science.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, February 22, 2010