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Director's Lecture

Rory Stewart, “The Fight Against Blandness: Lessons from Prison, Afghanistan and Walking”


Event Summary

Photo by Max Herman

Rory Stewart is a British academic, diplomat, explorer, author, former soldier, and former politician. At the time of this Director's Lecture he was serving as a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom and as Minister of Prisons. In the winter of 2002, after serving in the Foreign Office in Indonesia, he walked across Afghanistan with a mastiff named Babur. The book he wrote of his experience, The Places in Between, is widely considered a masterpiece of travel writing—arguably the best book about walking ever published. Stewart later served as the Coalition Deputy-Governor of two provinces in southern Iraq. In 2005 he founded Turquoise Mountain, a nonprofit devoted to preserving and regenerating historic sites and communities with a rich cultural heritage. He directed the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University from 2008 until 2010, when he left to run for Parliament. Stewart worked in Prime Minister Theresa May's government throughout the Brexit negotiations. His book The Marches chronicles a long walk with his father, a high-ranking intelligence official who served as Director of Technical and Support Services for MI6—a position made famous in the James Bond novels as Q.

Related Media

The Marches by Rory Stewart review – farewell to an imperial class” (The Guardian, November 18, 2016)

The Places in Between with Rory Stewart” (University of California Television, June 13, 2013)