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  Field Notes From
Iraq's Treasures



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Iraq's Treasures On AssignmentArrows

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From Photographer

Steve McCurry



Iraq's Treasures On Assignment

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From Photographer

Randy Olson



Iraq's Treasures On Assignment

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From Author

Andrew Lawler



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Mark Altaweel and Steve McCurry (center, bottom)



 

Iraq's Treasures

Field Notes From Photographer
Steve McCurry

Best Worst Strangest
    After 15 years of being away from Iraq, it was wonderful to see that my old friend Donny George had survived all these years. Donny was the director of the Iraq Museum. We spent days working together in the museum and had even been arrested together. We embraced when I arrived. It was the best part of returning to Iraq.

We were driving back to Baghdad on the national highway, and we started passing a car. Suddenly I looked out the window and saw an American man pointing a 45-caliber revolver at my head. I guess he thought we were up to no good or were going to force him off the road. But even worse than having a gun, the man had a very nervous expression on his face. In that moment, my life flashed before my eyes. In Iraq there's no police, no security, and the whole country is armed to the teeth. If anything goes wrong, you are utterly on your own.

    Throughout the trip, I pretty much survived on MREs, ready-made meals used by the United States Army. It's funny how I got them.
    When I was in Afghanistan on my last National Geographic assignment, I bought a bunch of MREs for about 30 cents. The Afghans were selling them in regular stores. I don't know how they got them. Some probably fell off the Army trucks, and others might have been gifts to the people. I just had a feeling that they were going to be handy, so I took them with me on later assignments in India and Jordan. Finally I ended up taking them to Iraq and eating them the whole time because it's very hard to find safe food. By then, they had been all around the world.




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