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Washington Post staff writer Jackie Spinner could’ve easily used Tell Them I Didn’t Cry, her memoir of reporting the Iraq War, to brag that she’s a kickass reporter. She is indeed that—she spent nine months in Iraq, pursuing stories under constant threat—but the book’s strength comes from her willingness to reveal not only her professional triumphs, but also the small, strange, everyday moments she experienced in Baghdad, Fallujah, Kurdistan, and Abu Ghraib. Huge, life-changing events, such as barely escaping a kidnapping and being embedded with a Marine unit, run alongside personal, internal conflicts, such as being torn about whether to return to the United States for her grandmother’s funeral. And it seems that surreal, often embarrassing moments persist even during a war: When a pair of Spinner’s underwear winds up on display at the Sheraton where the Post staff holed up, a laundry woman charges people admission to see them. And an Iraqi staffer admonishes the author for wearing Capri pants in sweltering heat because he knows—thanks to Oprah—that they don’t flatter short women like Spinner. From her first day on the job, when she dodges an angry mob and is shut out of Baghdad’s safe Green Zone, through her struggle to readjust once she returns home, Spinner provides vivid accounts of the people she meets and the places she visits in a touching-but-never-treacly account of reporting from the front lines. Spinner appears at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Sarah Godfrey)