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Ethan Casey
Ethan Casey is the author of two narrative travel books about Pakistan. Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time (2004) has been called “magnificent” by Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban and Descent into Chaos, “intelligent and compelling … the insights of a singular, clear-eyed and human traveler” by Booker Prize-shortlisted Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, and “wonderful … a model of travel writing” by Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat. His follow-up, Overtaken By Events: A Pakistan Road Trip, updates the story by recounting a six-week overland journey he made in early 2009, with photographer Pete Sabo, from Mumbai to Karachi via the only land crossing between India and Pakistan. It was published in April 2010. He is currently writing Bearing the Bruise: A Lifetime in Haiti, for publication in 2011.

He speaks frequently to university and school classes, Pakistani-American and other organizations, religious congregations, and civic groups. Recent venues include the Commonwealth Club of California, the University of Michigan, the United States Air Force Academy, Seattle Central Community College, the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit, and the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. He also speaks often in support of nonprofit groups working to improve education and health care in Pakistan, including the Central Asia Institute, The Citizens Foundation, Developments in Literacy, the Human Development Foundation, SHINE Humanity, and Zindagi Trust. In January 2006 he spoke at the Pakistani High Commission in London, at the invitation of then-High Commissioner Dr. Maleeha Lodhi.

In his books, articles and blogs, he uses his position as an American traveler, journalist and author with 15 years’ exposure to Pakistan to help foster historical and geographical perspective, human connections, and conversation between Americans and Pakistanis. He also is concerned to help improve Americans’ awareness of both the historic and the contemporary situation in Haiti, a country he first visited as a teenager in 1982. He returned to Haiti in March 2010 and is planning another visit in August-September 2010. Several of his talks can be read online:

“Live the Values That You Espouse” (about Todd Shea, the Pakistani-American community, and the earthquake in Haiti), Whittier, California, February 27, 2010

The Least We Can Do (fundraiser for Greg Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute), Downers Grove, Illinois, April 3, 2008

Toward a Pakistani Media Strategy (Human Development Foundation fundraiser), San Jose, California, May 17, 2008

Ethan jokingly describes himself as a recovering journalist, but it would be more accurate to say he is a journalist who now chooses to pursue both his vocation and his livelihood outside the increasingly unstable and unsupportive traditional institutions of periodical media and book publishing. Based in Bangkok in the 1990s, he interviewed Aung San Suu Kyi; witnessed the July 1997 coup d’etat in Cambodia; interviewed Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Sukarno and later herself President of Indonesia; interviewed Corazon Aquino on the 10th anniversary of the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos; was in Kathmandu in July 1994 for the fall of the first elected government of Nepal after the 1990 anti-royalist revolution and covered the November 1994 elections; and lived through the collapse of the Thai baht and other Asian currencies.

In 1994 he began covering the subcontinent, traveling around India by train and spending several extended periods in Jammu & Kashmir State near the height of the separatist rebellion there. His interest in Kashmir and in the subcontinent’s Muslims led him to visit Pakistan for the first time in 1995. He visited the Line of Control during the 1999 Kargil crisis and accepted an invitation in 2003 to spend a semester as a founding faculty member of the School of Media and Communication at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore.

Based in London from 1998 until 2005, he covered crises in Zimbabwe and Haiti and edited several book-length article collections, notably 09/11 8:48 a.m.: Documenting America’s Greatest Tragedy (in collaboration with Jay Rosen and the New York University Department of Journalism), published at the end of September 2001. John Sutherland in The Guardian called 09/11 8:48 a.m. “choral … subjected to stringent editing … more complete (because truer to the event) than if it arrived next Easter.”

From 1999 to 2005 he published the pioneering online journal and discussion forum Blue Ear, which James Fallows praised as “ambitious” and “innovative”. Periodicals he has written for include The Globe and Mail, the South China Morning Post, the Boston Globe, The Guardian, the Financial Times, Geographical magazine, The Times of India, and the Observer News Service. At different times he has written regular columns for the Pakistani dailies Dawn, The News, and Daily Times.

Ethan Casey is also co-author, with Michael Betzold, of Queen of Diamonds: The Tiger Stadium Story (1991). He grew up in Wisconsin and now lives in Seattle.

Entries by Ethan Casey

Why Bother Trying to Change the World?

(1) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 11:43 AM


I spent this summer building a patio, something I had never done before. I had to imagine it, then haul out a lot of dirt, then build a retaining wall and haul in crushed rock and sand. I couldn't have done it without...

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Ferguson: We Are All Missourians

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 10:37 AM

SEATTLE, August 18 -- I began Home Free, my account of the 3 1/2-month driving trip I made around the United States during the 2012 election season, with an entire chapter on Wisconsin for three reasons. One was topical: the then-recent occupation of the state capitol building in Madison,...

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Pakistan: "It's Happening Right Now"

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 12:52 PM

PHOENIX - On Sunday here I was the main speaker at the annual Daal Saag Luncheon of the local Pakistan Information and Cultural Organization (PICO). I had just sat down after giving my speech, when the Pakistani man sitting to my right informed me that an attack was taking place...

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Acclaimed Pakistani Film Josh Now on DVD

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 3:40 PM

Josh image

On March 5, 2013, I had the memorable pleasure of attending the North American premiere of the wonderful Pakistani feature film Josh (English title: Against the Grain). It happened to be in my home city of...

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Where Is the American Writer Writing About America in Pakistan?

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 11:07 AM

Here I am. That's my short answer to the Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie's rhetorical question the other day in The Guardian. Here I am, a-n American, living in America, writing about America's involvement -- as well as my own - in Pakistan, and trying to catch the passing attention...

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Why Celebrate Babe Ruth's Birthday in Detroit? Why Not?

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2014 | 11:45 AM

More than two decades ago, in the early 1990s, the task at hand for some of us in Detroit was still to try to save Tiger Stadium. It's a long story, but in a city with a Third World-level infant mortality rate and many other severe problems, there was a...

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What if America Ends With a Whimper?

(0) Comments | Posted October 14, 2013 | 6:39 PM

I just spent several days in Pittsburgh with Bill Steigerwald, fellow journalist and author of the wonderful book Dogging Steinbeck. Something Bill said to me last year, when I sought him out during my American road trip for my book Home Free, has been on my mind...

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Home Free: Who Cares About Obamacare?

(0) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 6:13 PM

Last fall I drove around America and wrote a book about it. One reason I did that is that the traditional institutions whose role has been to explain to us what's going on and why are both confused about their mission and in disarray on the business side (a case...

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Detroit's First and Last Cadillac Dealership

(41) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 4:18 PM


Below is an excerpt from Ethan Casey's latest book "Home Free: An American Road Trip." Please click here to purchase a copy of "Home Free."

"I'm as angry as I was on day one," said Keith.


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Review: Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 12:50 PM

2013-09-07-ClaireoftheSeaLightcover.jpg Last November in Miami, I asked Edwidge Danticat if she was working on a new book. Yes, she said, a book of fiction. A novel, or short stories? Well, she said, interlocking stories, and there was some uncertainty or debate over whether...

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Why Americans Should Travel to Pakistan

(2) Comments | Posted August 15, 2013 | 10:57 AM

With Aniqa and Aamer Shabbir, Macon, Ga., Nov. 4, 2012.

Dr. Aamer Shabbir, a cardiologist in Macon, Ga., grew up in Pakistan in the 1970s, the same time I was growing up in Wisconsin. He and I have at least...

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Home Free: Remembering Detroit

(1) Comments | Posted July 19, 2013 | 1:51 PM

The news that Detroit has declared the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history prompts me to publish this excerpt from Chapter 2 of my new book, Home Free: An American Road Trip. About Home Free, Paul Rogat Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging...

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Why Blow the Whistle? Remembering Enron

(4) Comments | Posted June 12, 2013 | 1:18 PM

Whether a "whistleblower," as Edward Snowden is inevitably being called, is good or bad, helpful or damaging, is an unavoidable and fundamental question, thus also inevitably divisive. While The Guardian understandably makes the most out of his story, U.S. media have predictably moved into damage-control mode, with even so impeccably...

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You Have No Privacy. So What?

(192) Comments | Posted June 7, 2013 | 2:31 PM

Behind incidents (that word is radically inadequate) like the revelation that the National Security Agency and the FBI are monitoring essentially all phone calls within, to, and from the United States - for so we must assume - lies a mystery deeper than politics. We could phrase it as a...

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Drones Are the Napalm of Our Crazy Time

(20) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 3:06 PM

I was born in 1965, the year the first U.S. combat troops went to Vietnam. Growing up in middle-class America in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I distinctly remember that "Vietnam" -- the place name stood in for a great many things left unsaid -- was not discussed, almost...

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Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the American Public

(2) Comments | Posted May 9, 2013 | 4:02 PM

On my Facebook page on May 1, the second anniversary of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, I re-posted the link to an article of mine originally published in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. In the distress of that extraordinary moment, pulling an all-nighter in a motel room...

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History Rhymes in Afghanistan

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2013 | 4:39 PM


Should Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839-42 be read as an account of the first Afghan war in its own right, or as a cautionary tale in the context of Afghanistan today? The question is pointless -- the answer is...

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Muslims and the Boston Bombing: A Statement

(3) Comments | Posted April 17, 2013 | 11:22 AM

Seattle, April 17 - Those who follow my work know that one purpose of my writing and public speaking is to emphasize the humanity of Muslims and Muslim societies to Western readers and students, especially other Americans. Another, related purpose is to counter the post-9/11 American tendency to...

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Josh/Against the Grain: A Pakistani Film That Serves Us Well

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2013 | 11:48 AM

On March 5 in my home city of Seattle, I had the pleasure of being part of the first North American audience to view the fine debut feature by a talented and enterprising Pakistani filmmaker, Iram Parveen Bilal. Josh (English title: Against the Grain) is the story of...

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Muslims in America, Christians in Pakistan

(105) Comments | Posted March 11, 2013 | 1:19 PM

I don't know much of the specific background of the anti-Christian rampage last week in Lahore. But is there anything I don't know that would mitigate or excuse it? A major theme of my writing and public speaking is an insistence on distinguishing between what I call the Pakistan I...

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