Joseph Braude

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Joseph Braude is the author of The Honored Dead: A Story of Friendship, Murder, and the Search for Truth in the Arab World (Random House - Spiegel & Grau, June 2011) [1]. The book is a narrative non-fiction true crime story, based on four months Braude spent embedded with the Moroccan police in Casablanca, as well as a commentary on Arabic and Islamic affairs and history [2]. According to a Kirkus starred review, The Honored Dead is "one of the most affecting, sympathetic accounts of Arab culture in recent memory." [3] Fluent in Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew, Braude was born to an Iraqi-Jewish family. He has lived and worked in Tehran, Iran; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Egypt and spent extensive time in most Middle Eastern capitals [4]. He studied Near Eastern languages at Yale and Arabic and Islamic history at Princeton. [5] Since July 2010, he has been broadcasting a weekly radio commentary in Arabic, essentially focused on American foreign policy in the Middle East, for Morocco's national Radio MED network. The broadcast is titled "Risalat New York" ("Letter from New York"). [6]

Between 2004 and 2007, Braude penned 56 articles for The New Republic magazine as well as other publications including the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Glamour, Playboy, and Best Life. The writing includes an interview with former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto which was held a few weeks before Bhutto's death. [7] Also during this period, Braude co-produced three radio documentaries for the Public Radio International program "Afropop Worldwide" [] on Arab and Islamic music and history. [8]

In March 2003, Braude published The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for Its People, the Middle East, and the World. [9] The book explores the economic, social, and political legacy of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and envisions the country’s rejuvenation as part of an international state-building effort. The book was modeled after The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, Ruth Benedict’s 1946 analysis of Japanese culture which influenced American efforts to rebuild Japan after World War II as well as subsequent studies of Japanese society and politics. [10] According to Ernest May, a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, "Combining sensitive description of centuries of history with vivid eyewitness reports on the present, Braude offers a fascinating, horrifying, yet hopeful description of Iraq." [11] The Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram accorded the book nine columns' space in a critical but respectful two-part review, meticulously parsing Braude's formulations chapter by chapter. Among other aspects of the book's content, it predicts an Iraqi insurgency, calls for a reengineering of the Iraqi army from within rather than its dissolution, and flags Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as a crucial player in Iraq's political future. The book was published prior to the April 2003 American invasion of Iraq. While promoting the book, Braude interviewed live in Arabic on Al-Jazeera and in English on CNN, MSNBC, NBC’s Today Show, and CBS’s The Early Show. [12]

From 2000-2003, he served as Senior Middle East Analyst for Pyramid Research, a global consulting firm specializing in the telecommunications industry. [13] Al Jazeera's report states that Braude "worked at an Islamic archive in the United Arab Emirates, where he helped recover and preserve antique Arabic manuscripts. He has also been a federal consultant on "terrorist activities." The New York Times reports that "Braude quietly assisted the United States in counterterrorism operations during his education at Yale an Princeton and later as a consultant."

In June 2003, Braude returned to the United States from a visit to Baghdad with three cylinder seals which were the property of the Iraqi museum. Federal prosecutors accused him of smuggling the items, which he neither declared on his Customs form nor volunteered to Customs agents. Though an Ashcroft-era Justice Department press release claimed that the airport interrogation of Braude had been a "routine Customs investigation," subsequent cross-examination of a Customs agent at trial elicited the fact that Braude had been targeted for unspecified reasons. [14]

Of the prosecution, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, a noted civil libertarian who earlier in his career had defended Pentagon Papers whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg, told the New York Times, "I just got the sense that this kid was being railroaded. Why they’re prosecuting it like a major felony seems like serious overkill to me." [15] Braude fought the charges for 13 months but ultimately entered a plea of guilty in August 2004, after a legal ruling that Braude's motivation in recovering and importing the cylinder seals were irrelevant to the legal statute. At sentencing in a New York Federal court, he told Judge Allyne B. Ross, "I acquired the three cylinder seals in Baghdad’s black market for the sole purpose of safeguarding them, authenticating them, and delivering them directly to American officials whom I knew and who were specifically tasked with Iraq policy." Ross stated: "This is an exceptional case in which a departure is warranted … As to his motivation in committing the offense, the government has never contended that defendant sought pecuniary gain from his conduct, nor is there any suggestion that he ever procured similar items in the past or sought to do so."

Braude was spared prison time, and sentenced to six months’ home confinement – which commenced in December 2004 and ended in May 2005.


  • The Honored Dead: A Story of Friendship, Murder, and the Search for Truth in the Arab World (Random House - Spiegel & Grau, June 2011). (Book website at []).
  • The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for its People, the Middle East, and the World (Basic Books, 2003). (Book Website at [16]).

External links

Articles by Braude

General articles