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Neil MacFarquhar and bodyguards, Marib, Yemen.

Neil MacFarquhar and bodyguards, Marib, Yemen.

New York Times correspondent Neil MacFarquhar grew up on a beach in Libya, son of an American oil engineer, before our age of violent jihad, war, and Middle Eastern turmoil.

He studied Arabic and went back to cover upheaval in the Arab world. But he could never ignore the other side of Arab life — the human, the everyday, the sometimes comical — behind the headlines of terror and tyranny.

In a new book he says Americans need to remember and speak to that humanity.

This hour, On Point: Neil MacFarquhar’s unexpected encounters in a changing Middle East.

Is there another Middle East to call on, draw on, beyond the endless headlines of conflict? Or not? Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guest:

Neil MacFarquhar joins us from New York. He was Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times from 2001 through 2005 and is now its UN correspondent. He grew up in Libya and covered the region for the Associated Press. His new book is “The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes you a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East.” He’s also the author of a novel, “The Sand Café.”

You can read “The Beachhead,” Chapter 1 of MacFarquhar’s new book, at his website.

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