Last year Brooklyn Brewery launched an interview series at their brewhouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in conjunction with RISC, a nonprofit that offers instruction on life-saving skills for freelance war journalists. The conversations were an instant hit.
For its second season, Slate partnered with the brewery to film the series. Each month we’ll release our favorite excerpts from the conversations. In the first installment, Steve Hindy, founder of Brooklyn Brewery and a former Associated Press foreign correspondent himself, sits down with Deborah Amos, NPR's Middle East correspondent and the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis. Check back in the next several days for more of the talk.
Before Bashar al-Assad became defined by barrel bombs and starvation tactics—before the ruthless Syrian civil war and its unthinkable atrocities—there was a time, brief as it may have been, when he embodied a new hope for Syria, the Syrian people, and the Middle East at large. He was a charming, Western-educated doctor, an Alawite who crossed the sectarian line and married a Sunni, a fan of Shakespeare who at times was willing to work back channels in negotiations with Israel. He was, in the words of Deborah Amos, the "embodiment of everything Syria wanted to be.”
In the clip above, Amos reflects on the man behind the international pariah, recounting a trip to the Damascus Opera House with the Syrian president to watch a performance of Richard III—a performance where he knowingly slapped his knee in laughter when Baldrick wins an election with 99 percent of the vote.
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.
What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?
The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.