About Me


Home is where I live with my family: My wife Lulu, a correspondent for NPR; our daughter, Cassenia, who is two; and our Mexican street mutts, Ratdog and Ursa. At the moment we're in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I am the South America correspondent for The Times newspaper, and for about a decade I was the paper's Middle East correspondent. While there I covered the conflicts in Israel and Palestine, the war in Iraq, and the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and Syria. I have also reported on Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Georgia, the Nato occupation of Kosovo, the civil war in Macedonia and the Mexico drugs wars. After Hurricane Katrina, I drove across Texas to report from New Orleans.

The time I spent in the Middle East inspired me to write 'The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Front Lines of Holy Wars', which won a BOOKLIST Editors Choice award and was listed as a Book of the Year by MOTHER JONES magazine.

I'm fascinated by humanity's vivid imagination, its ability to create weird, wonderful and often terrifying beliefs and that's what led me to write 'Cronix', my science fiction novel, the first in a trilogy. I'm working towards the finish line on Book Two. The story came from an idea I had about god and evolution meeting in a man-made paradise.

When I'm not writing books and articles, I love to read, both fiction and non-fiction. I ski and scuba dive when the opportunity arises, and I enjoy dining well, drinking cocktails in fancy glasses, spending time with friends. Discussing ideas.

In recent years a new hobby has been mastering the art of the BBQ: I grew up in rainy England, where hours of grilling in drizzle usually resulted in blackened lumps of chicken that were frozen at their core. I was something of a social outcast in places like Israel and Brazil, where every boy grows up in front of a grill. This was compounded when I married into a Cuban family, whose acceptance I only really won the first time I produced a perfectly roasted porker in a Caja China, which is a troublesome fusion of wheelbarrow, barbecue and coffin. Inside, and buried underground, the pig takes at least five hours to cook. But that gives everyone time to work up an appetite with ice cold beers and caipirinhas.

I love to travel. My current favourite place is Tulum, in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsular, where you can lie in a hammock on a golden beach under the ruins of a Mayan temple and watch pelicans dive into the Caribbean. It's the first place that Europeans ever set eyes on America and its people.

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