LAT

An auto writer in Baghdad

The Times would love to see its Pulitzer-winning automobile critic, Dan Neil, get more exposure than he receives in the lightly read driving section. The editors sent him to Baghdad to do some pieces from an exotic locale. He writes about his adventures on today's op-ed page, beginning with the bus ride in from the airport.

Veteran passengers, I note, put their luggage against the windows to shield themselves from snipers. As I wedge my Andiamo against the glass I wonder, just how ballistic is "Ballistic Cordura" fabric?

This is the moment when all of Baghdad's unescorted, naked-in-the-wind visitors ask themselves, "What am I doing here?" I am not a war correspondent. I am The Times' automotive writer, whose previous exposure to risk amounted to driving fast in a Ferrari.

I have come to Baghdad, believe it or not, to write about the automotive war the Humvees and armored personnel carriers, the convoys and suicide car bombs.

It seemed like such a clever idea for a story, back in Los Angeles...

He observes that SUVs are frequent targets of attacks, which gives his story an L.A. spin: "Could this be an unholy alliance between Abu Musab Zaqarwi and Arianna Huffington?"


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