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Acclaimed journalist addresses ‘problems, promise'

September 14, 2007

Acclaimed journalist Robin Wright has covered every major political change in the Middle East, from the Iranian revolution in 1979 to the rise of militant Islam to the war in Iraq.

Wright will address “The Problems and Promise of Democracy in the Middle East” when she delivers this year’s Jonathan and Maxine Marshall Distinguished Lecture at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 18, in ASU’s Gammage Auditorium.

The lecture is being conducted by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and are available at the ASU Bookstore. Tickets also can be reserved online at the Web site

Additional information is available by calling (480) 965-0051.

This distinguished lecture series brings to ASU nationally known scholars concerned with promoting culture through the humanities and a better understanding of the problems of democracy. Wright matches that description.

As a diplomatic correspondent for the Washington Post, Wright has reported from more than 130 countries on six continents for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Sunday Times of London and the Christian Science Monitor. She has also written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Times (London), the Guardian (London), and the International Herald Tribune.

Throughout her career, Wright has covered a dozen wars and several revolutions. Her foreign tours include five years in the Middle East, two years in Europe, seven years in Africa and several years as a roving correspondent in those areas, as well as Latin America and Asia. Her current focus has been covering the repercussions of militant Islam, and the current transformation and future of the Middle East.
She has interviewed numerous foreign leaders, including South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi and Jordan’s King Hussein.

The annual lecture series has been supported since 1993 by the Marshalls, retired publishers of the Scottsdale Daily Progress, and the Marshall Fund of Arizona.

“My wife and I spent most of our lives interested in what was going on in the world politically,” Jonathan Marshall says. “We’ve endowed this lecture because we felt it was important to bring really great minds to Arizona and Arizona State University who would stimulate thinking.”

Many journalists and authors are among past distinguished speakers in the series, including Newsweek’s Jon Meacham, Seymour Hersh, Paul Krugman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Daniel Goldhagen, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

“Journalism is one of the highest callings there is,” Marshall says. “Good journalism is essential to democracy. With good journalism, you have good government.”

This year’s speaker has traveled over the past three decades with U.S. officials from six administrations. In 2003, she was awarded the United Nations correspondents’ Gold Medal for coverage of international affairs. In 2001, she won the Weintal Prize for “the most distinguished diplomatic reporting.” Her other awards include the 1989 National Magazine Award for her reporting from Iran in the New Yorker, and an Overseas Press Club Award for the “best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initiative” for coverage of African wars. She also is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.

Her upcoming book “Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East,” due out in February, discusses how the Middle East struggles to deal with trends that already have shaped the modern world and discusses key players and events that will play a role in the region’s future.
Her book “The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran” was selected as one of the 25 most memorable books of the year 2000. The New York Times noted: “Wright succeeds in both presenting a reasoned critique of a climatic 20th-century event and in making us sympathize with a people struggling to grasp the slippery reigns of history … blending interviews, acute observation and informed analysis, Wright explores the changes wrought by two decades of revolution.”

She also is the author of “Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam.”

Wright has been a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Yale University, Duke University, Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California.

She also has been a commentator on ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN news programs, including the “PBS Newshour,” “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week,” “Nightline,” “Frontline,” “Larry King Live” and “Washington Week in Review.”

Carla Mitchell,
(480) 965-1441