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A Sweetheart of a Story

Given that February is traditionally the month of all things pink and Cupid, I couldn't resist using this space to share the "back story" of our cover article, "We Will Bring Him Home."

In Catherine Pierre's story, you'll read the harrowing account of a pair of documentary filmmakers who were doing serious work in Iraq when their lives were turned upside down. Catherine's article centers on the impetus for their project (a passion to document the archaeological looting in Iraq that threatens to obliterate an important record of human history) and the white-knuckle effort to free one of the pair after he was kidnapped by Iraqi terrorists.

That's the story the couple intended to be the focus of their book about their experience. But a funny thing happened on the way to the publisher. Their tale became a love story — as emblemized by the cover at right. "Initially we had a different title and cover. The title was Road to Nasariyah and the cover would have been a [photo] of Iraq," Micah Garen told us. "For us the love story was a subtext." But, he says, "we learned that there are some things in publishing you can't fight."

To be fair to Simon & Schuster, the romantic angle of their story makes for compelling copy. While in captivity, unsure whether he'd make it through the night, Micah scratched his love for Marie-Hélène Carleton (and their dog, Zeugma) on a cigarette packet and left it in his pocket. And he vowed to ask Marie-Hélène to marry him if he made it out alive.

Well, Micah did make it out, and he did ask her to marry him (she said yes), and now as they do the media circuit promoting their book, Marie-Hélène's engagement ring has become a focus. "It's an interesting cultural statement that that's what stands out for people," she says. For the couple, the real meaning of their story is the importance of friends and family, given the lengths all went to to bring Micah home safely. "Whether it's been turned into a Hallmark love story . . ." says Micah, shrugging. "We tried our best." Marie-Hélène's parting book jacket salvo: "We would actually like people to know that this isn't us. Who are those people on the cover?"

-Sue De Pasquale

Return to February 2006 Table of Contents

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