Ethan Casey

Author, 'Home Free: An American Road Trip',

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.