All Along the Watchtower


Airdate: September 4, 2017

Michael Goldfarb is a journalist, author and broadcaster who for over thirty years has written the first rough draft of history. A former London bureau chief of NPR, he has reported from more than 20 countries across five continents for the BBC, Newsday, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Die Welt and The Guardian. He spent many years covering conflicts from Northern Ireland to Bosnia to Iraq.  He has authored two books: Ahmad's War, Ahmad's Peace: Surviving Under Saddam, Dying in the New Iraq and Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews From the Ghetto led to Revolution and Renaissance. His journalism has won the highest awards on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Overseas Press Club's Lowell Thomas Award in America and the Sony Gold award in Britain. He is a former fellow of the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is the host of the podcast FRDH.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in journalism, war correspondence, drafting the narrative of history, and American and world affairs.


  • Michael talks about being in the middle of history covering Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq.

  • He discusses discerning patterns of events and the paranoid style of American politics.

  • He talks about storytelling on the radio and calling the audience to the better angels of their nature.

  • Michael explains growing up as a child of victory.

  • He notes how his experience in college reflected larger movements in America.

  • Michael explains the difference between radio and television journalism and how he felt about being a war correspondent.

  • He discusses his books about reporting in Iraq and Jewish emancipation.

  • Michael shares his thoughts about the state of affairs in America today and the work of citizenship.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: The Voices of NPR

To Learn More About Michael


  • What struck you about Michael' comments?

  • What do you think is the role of the journalist?

  • Are facts of the day and history the same?

  • What is the work of citizenship?

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This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts.