About

If you don’t already know, my name is Derek, and in addition to freelance work and occasional appearances on Alhurra TV, I write this here blog (and maybe also a podcast one of these days) called “and that’s the way it was.”

“and that’s the way it was” is dedicated to helping people make sense of the world, especially but not limited to the Middle East. I’ve spent several years studying American government and foreign policy, and several more learning about and working in the Middle East, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that it’s hard for most Americans to get a good handle on these places. That’s partly because our media is frequently more concerned with tracking Donald Trump’s Twitter feed than it is with covering very serious stories that happen every day all around the world, and partly because we tend to confine expertise about distant places and foreign peoples to specialized academic fields, with little of that knowledge ever filtering out of those niches. This makes it very easy for our foreign policy to be hijacked by forces that want perpetual war, a massive military state, and the continued forcible expansion of American empire. People can’t fight back against something they don’t know is there.

I’m trying to change that. I write about the history of the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere in a way that I hope is accessible and enjoyable and helps people understand the context behind what they might hear in the news. I track international news all day and compile it into nightly digests for people who want to know what’s happening but don’t have time to seek out the world news that’s too-often buried under an avalanche of domestic news (and noise). I look for other perspectives on world events and U.S. foreign policy that can’t necessarily be found in the New York Times or the Washington Post and try to bring those perspectives to you. If people naturally fear the unknown, then the antidote to that is knowledge. If ignorance breed apathy, then the solution is less ignorance. That’s what I’m trying to achieve.

So who am I? My name is Derek Davison. My credentials include Master’s degrees in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and in Middle East Studies at the University of Chicago, as well as a stint working overseas, in Qatar. After Chicago, my wife’s career led me to the DC-area, where I’ve been trying to make it doing the two things I enjoy the most: research and writing. I do a lot of that here, but you can also find my work out there on the world wide web and, if you’re an aficionado of podcasts and/or Arabic-language television, you might even see or hear me sometime.

So that’s me. On Twitter I am @dwdavison9318, and over on Facebook (*shudder*) I’ve created a page for this blog here. Please, if there’s a post here you really like, help me by sharing it on those or other social media platforms. And if you like my work here overall, it would be wonderful if you’d support this site and contribute to its continued growth. If you would like to email me for some reason, attwiw at gmail dot com usually works. I’ve got plans for growing and developing this site that can only happen with your support. Thanks for indulging me in this bit of self-absorption, and always thanks for reading. I hope you’ll stick around.

14 thoughts

  1. Interesting bio! I’m 25 young expat in Dubai dying to pen down my thoughts with this blog, but poorly enough. Im very liberal and diversified interests. I watching out for your analysis on politics cause no matter what the music industry says, its politics that eventually makes the world go round. Cheers!!!

  2. Hi Derek. I was going to share your blog with folks on LINKEDIN but when I tried to do this, they placed the first part of your self-description as the “news” for my post. (i.e. So who am I? My name is Derek Davison. I am a writer who is always looking for more things to write and a researcher who enjoys finding arcane things to research. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a disturbingly long time ago, and lived most of my life without ever really leaving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.) I’m afraid if I share it folks will think you’re just a nice fellow and might not know that you have important things to say. I’d like to share this great blog on LINKEDIN and it would be really easy for me to do it if had a few sentences in the very beginning of your description that told about the blog…). There may be another way to share this via linkedin without getting your personal information first but as I’m not very technically inclined, I wasn’t able to figure it out. Wonderful blog btw.

    1. Thanks Diana, I really appreciate it! I’ll rewrite the “About” page so this can work. I’ve been kind of under the weather the last couple of days, so maybe by Monday?

  3. Hi Derek–Kudos to you! New follower with an affinity for reading books that are centered in the Middle East, especially Iran. Since I no longer intend to pursue advanced degrees in the field, I’ve widened my reading interests and recently just started blogger here/on WordPress.

  4. Just sent you a couple bucks because that’s all I could really afford but I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog the last few months. Really enjoyable and informative, thanks

  5. WOW! What a marvelous blog! I have seemingly endless doc files, notes, maps, binders and folders. I follow threads thru history and so far have no idea how to weave them together. I had zero interest in history for most of my life (73) – history as taught was monumentally boring … just remember the dates of events with no connection to anything! My recent interest to the Battle of Aqaba led me to your blog…. then I scrolled thru to find many of my ‘threads’ in your blog. Thank you.
    Marsha
    Sonora, CA

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