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Profiles of Iraq: More from Jane Stillwater

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Chris Vallance | 10:34 UK time, Saturday, 27 October 2007

janestillwaterblog.jpg Californian grandmother, Jane Stillwater continues to blog from her embed in Iraq. Every so often one of her updates arrives in my email inbox. Her latest is a profile of some of the people she encountered out on patrol in Iraq, local people, victims of violence, and some of the marines she's embedded with (and who have clearly impressed her). Something about this post tells me I'm getting a real slice of life. Here's Jane at the home of an Iraqi policeman, killed by a suicide bomber:

An older woman dressed in black came out into the yard and cried, mourning in the traditional Iraqi way. Lt. Waheed had been a good man."Please come into my house," beckoned a woman next door. The Marine with the M-16 next to me shook his head no. But the woman shook her head yes. I compromised. I stood in the doorway and hugged women, girls and babies. They'd never seen an American woman before and certainly not one as old as dirt, hanging out with Marines.

And further on into the post she meets a young man injured by an improvised explosive device:

Qusi Shaba'an also broke my heart. He looked like a teenager, one you might see getting ready to graduate from high school or go off to the University of California -- intelligent, good-looking, hopeful and young. Except that he had no legs. "It was an IED," whispered someone next to me. "We are trying to get him artificial legs but it's a slow process. The Marines are doing everything they can to get him medical help." But still and all. This young man should be out dancing and running track.

I can't pretend that Jane is a neutral observer: George Bush and Dick Cheney won't be on her Christmas list anytime soon, but she's a very different sort of writer from the embattled journalists who are typically embedded with troops. Reading her writing is like getting a call from an aunt who took a wrong turn on the way to the bridge club and ended up in the middle of a war zone. Jane's blog is not neutral, it's very personal, and somehow for all of that it seems more valuable than any number of press reports. Eccentric, opinionated, moving, and in places very funny, read the whole post, you won't regret it.

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