ABOUT BETTE DAM
Bette Dam (1979) made a career in journalism working in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. At the age of 29 she published her first book about Afghanistan (Expedition Uruzgan, 2009), the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant called her a ‘top journalist’. Others said that 'Dam did something that others can’t.' An English version quickly followed (A Man and A Motorcycle, How Hamid Karzai Came to Power). Foreign Policy called her book a ‘thorough, measured account’. Publishers Weekly said Dam works ‘meticulously, based on her experience of living for 4 years in Afghanistan’.
The quality of Bette’s work is a result of perseverance. She enchants her audience by bringing them close to the experience of her reporting. Her writing draws you into the world of adventure and bizarre discoveries that she encounters along the way.
Dam grew up in a rural Frysian village. She studied at the University of Amsterdam. It was journalism that brought her to Afghanistan where she entered a new world that she quickly felt at home in. She sat around the table with NATO generals, she entertained top level officials in her Kabul house, wrote a book about the President, and eventually assumed the most difficult journalistic job: talking to terrorists.
Her book is about one of the most mysterious people in the war against terror, Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban. Some call her the Carri of Homeland: Dam found mullah Omar’s hideout, something the CIA had not been able to do. The CIA had lost track of him, and were not able to locate mullah Omar.
But the search for that man yields a lot more: in the book she discusses the current war on terror, and argues that the war against the Taliban was unnecessary, and that peace was around the corner (see also the book of Anand Gopal, No Men Among the Living to read more about that). Her book is critical about American politics in the War on Terror, but even more critical about the role of media, who often are biased in their reporting, and simply gave up cross-checking statements that come from Western government or from the websites of terror groups. Her book analysis this coverage in detail.
The French-German TV station ARTE made a film about her work. Two female filmmakers Claire Billet and Leslie Knott followed her she carried out her research in the Taliban heartlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Dutch artist Joost Conijn is producing a documentary film about Bette’s work. He was in Afghanistan with Bette when she made the startling discovery of Mullah Omar’s whereabouts.
Her view on the war on terror is sought after. Bette is a lecturer at Sciences Po in Paris one of the most prestigious universities in the world. She regularly contributes as an expert on political discussion programs on Al Jazeera, HuffingtonPost Live and Pauw (and Witteman). She is often interviewed by CNN, BBC, ABC, and Nieuwsuur. Bette shares her unique journalistic approach by lecturing at universities, NGOs, State Department, the Pentagon, and international organizations.
The independent lens through which she reports from has inspired a new generation of journalists to trust their intuition. It is her intuition that has guided her through some of the most dangerous terrain imaginable, resulting in cutting edge independent impartial reporting that breaks stories not found anywhere else.