If you were at Firdos Square on April 9, 2003, you would end up in somebody’s picture. This photo was shot by Robert Nickelsberg of Time, and it shows Lt. Col. Bryan McCoy outside the Palestine Hotel, moments after he pulled up in his Humvee. McCoy is on the phone, and the guy on the left, in a jacket and tie, is the hotel manager who had nervously come outside to meet his new boss. At the far left of the photo, partially obscured, the fellow with sunglasses who is holding the digital recorder–yes, guilty as charged, that’s me.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 1983, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, I went to Brussels as a copy editor for The Wall Street Journal/Europe. I left the Journal in 1985 to write for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, covering NATO and the European Union. In 1987 I moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I wrote primarily for The Washington Post. After three years in Asia I moved to Budapest to cover Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I spent most of 1992 and 1993 covering the war in Bosnia for the Post.
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