And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East

In 1996, Richard Engel traveled to Cairo, chasing his lifelong dream of becoming a foreign correspondent. He was 23 years old, fresh out of Stanford University, with two suitcases, $2,000 in cash and no job. He worked for an Arab newspaper and as a freelancer, gaining first-hand experience with the type of violence he would encounter over the rest of his career. In 1998, Agence France-Presse offered Engel the job of Palestinian affairs correspondent in Jerusalem. He followed the steady paycheck, and the violence followed him: the Second Intifada, which began in 2000, destroyed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and killed thousands of people.

When it became clear that the U.S. would invade Iraq in 2003, Engel strapped $20,000 to his leg and drove into Baghdad with a fraudulent visa and no concrete employment contract. He rode out the invasion in one piece as an ABC correspondent, but the following catastrophic years of the insurgency nearly killed him more than once. His later postings brought him to other pivotal moments in modern Middle East history: the Israeli war with Lebanon, the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, the Syrian Civil War (where he was briefly kidnapped) and the rise of ISIS.

And Then All Hell Broke Loose is more than a memoir. Engel (War Journal; A Fist in the Hornet's Nest), current chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, places his own experiences within the larger context of Middle Eastern geopolitical history. His analysis is fascinating, his prose simple yet engaging, and his war stories enthralling. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

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