* US government advice to soldiers headed to Syria--circa 1942
Sometimes the War Department guidebook displayed an Orientalist flair, reporting on Syrian knife-wielding skills and waxing romantic about the "desert folk that give flavor to the land." Mostly, though, it stuck to practicalities--don’t eat with your left hand, don’t stare at the women, try to speak some Arabic.

* We're a Zambian Band
The globalizing forces that brought the ideas of Marx and Fanon to inland Africa also brought the sounds of the British Invasion. To young Zambians, the Fender Stratocaster was the sound of modernity.

* Searching for Jagari
We were in the lobby, lingering over breakfast. “Not to be nosy,” the worker said. “But I saw your map. Are you here in search of gems?”

* Sightseeing in a Police State: a Syrian travelogue
Above all, I wanted an answer to one ethically queasy question: What did sightseeing in a dictatorship feel like?

* The Thug
The thug told me he always worked nights. Home invasions could be messy, but there was a lot of money to be made. They’d strike just as the sky began to lighten, as the servants were turning off alarms and getting the paper. “We’d find the main bedroom and ask them, ‘Where’s our money?’”

* Once Found, Now Lost
Soul was more than an employee, but we weren’t quite friends. This was 2002 and I was living in Johannesburg (.pdf).

* Saharan Scenes
Outside our windows the desert is silent, malevolently hot, and virtually empty. Every so often, though, we see things: knots of camels grazing the scrubland; hulks of cars left for dead by the roadside, their skeletons filling with sand; wraithlike men engaged in the Sisyphean task of sweeping the blowing sands off the blacktop.

* Exploring Johannesburg
On the western edge of downtown Johannesburg, a neighborhood named Newtown has emerged as the city's cultural heart.

* True Grit: Sandboarding in the Oregon dunes
Sandboarding, as the thumbnail definition goes, is essentially snowboarding on sand. But ask anybody who’s tried a snowboarding-style hockey stop in a dune: Once he picks himself off the ground and digs the sand out of his ears--I speak from experience here-- he’ll probably tell you that there are some important differences between the sports. (story starts on p. 40.)