Who We Are

Who we are

The Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan was founded in 1998 by Edward Girardet and Jonathan Walter. The first three editions (1998, 2004 and 2006) were edited by Girardet and Walter with Charles Norchi and Mirwais Massoud as co-editors. The current 4th edition is being co-edited with former Time correspondent, William Dowell. Both Girardet and Dowell are editors of the Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan and the Region information portal. The Essential Field Guide series is published by Crosslines Essential Media (UK) Ltd. with offices in London and Geneva.

Edward Girardet 

Edward Girardet is a Swiss-American journalist, writer and producer who has reported widely from humanitarian and conflict zones in Africa, Asia and elsewhere since the late 1970s. As a foreign correspondent for The Christian Science MonitorUS News and World Report, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour based in Paris, he first began covering Afghanistan several months prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979. He has worked on numerous television current affairs and documentary segments on subjects ranging from the war in Angola to lost tribes in Western New Guinea and environmental issues in Africa for major European and North American broadcasters. In the mid-1990s, Mr. Girardet became co-founding director of Crosslines Global Report and Media Action International, a non-profit foundation focusing on public awareness and needs-based media initiatives in Afghanistan, southern Balkans, including Kosovo, Rwanda, West Africa, Mozambique, and Indonesia. In recent years, Mr. Girardet has written  for National Geographic MagazineThe Christian Science MonitorInternational Herald Tribune and other publications on humanitarian, media and conflict issues. He also speaks regularly on these subjects at conferences, universities and other institutions, including high schools which he considers vital if one is to inspire new generations with credible and informed insight.

Girardet has written and edited several books, notably Afghanistan – The Soviet War(1985), Somalia, Rwanda and Beyond  (1996) Populations in Danger (1996) and The Crosslines Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan (1998, 2004, 2006 and now 2011). His latest book, Killing the Cranes  – A Repoter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan, which is based on his personal experiences since first covering the Afghan wars in October, 1979, is being published by Chelsea Green (USA) in September, 2011. Afghanistan – The Soviet War has been re-published by Routledge in July, 2011.  Girardet and his wife Loretta live in neighbouring France outside of Geneva with their children, Elisa and Alexander.


William Dowell


William Dowell is a US-born  writer and journalist, based in Geneva, Switzerland. His most recent book is In the Shadow of the Dragon, co-authored with Winter Nie. The book describes the impact of major Chinese corporations on global business. He also translated The Islamic Movement in North Africa , by French Arabist, Francois Burgat, for the Middle East Studies Center at the University of Texas, Austin. The book became a primary source for Middle East studies in the US. Dowell does frequent freelance assignments for the World Economic Forum and for The International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, and he co-edits The Essential Edge, an Internet magazine on contemporary affairs for the Greater Lake Geneva area.

From 1971 to 1989, Dowell worked for NBC NewsABC News, and for TIME Magazine in the Paris bureau (1975-1989),  as a staff correspondent for TIME, he covered  the Arab world and Iran (1989-1993), and served as Southeast Asia Bureau Chief for TIME, based in Hong Kong (1993-1995). Following that, he worked in TIME’s New York bureau, covering the Northeast USA (1995-2001).  He taught graduate courses on journalism in the Middle East, and an undergraduate honors course on the literature of journalism for  New York University (2001-2005), and he also edited The Global Beat, a web-based magazine focusing on foreign policy analysis. He was the Media and Information Coordinator for CARE Emergency Group in the International Secretariat of Geneva from 2005 to 2008. The job involved personal reporting on the ground following floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, the 1995 earth quake in Pakistan, and Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, and  he also spent considerable time covering droughts in the Horn of Africa.

Edward Girardet and William Dowell are also founders and editors of the Essential Edge (http://www.essentialgeneva.com), an internet-based magazine for the greater Geneva and Rhone-Alps region.

Jonathan Walter

Jonathan Walter is a freelance writer and editor specializing in humanitarian issues. From 1998 o 2006, he edited the World Disasters Report, published by the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He is also author of The End of Development, published by the New Economics Foundation in London. Apart from hitch-hiking through Afghanistan three times to research for this field guide, he has worked in Nepal as community aid director for a leading NGO, in Kosovo on media projects for returnees, and in Kenya as a volunteer among the Samburu people. For four years, Walter served in southeast Asia as an officer in the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas. A keen mountaineer, he has led expeditions to the Alps, Himalayas and Borneo. He holds masters degrees in comparative religions from Cambridge University and philosophy from St. Andrew’s University. Walter is currently based in New Delhi, where he operates a “zipping” company, Flying Fox.

Charles Norchi

Charles Norchi has worked as a journalist, human rights lawyer and consultant in Afghanistan from the Soviet occupation of the 1980s to the present. He has published in major newspapers and contributed to books on foreign affairs, international law and Afghanistan. Norchi has traveled widely on various human rights, reporting and advisory initiatives ranging from the Indian subcontinent to Southern Africa, notably Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. He has lectured or otherwise participated in fora in Geneva, Switzerland for Media Action International and other organizations with particular emphasis on democracy building, communications and security in conflict and post-conflict situations. Norchi is a consultant to the World Bank;  a director of the Policy Science Center, Inc.; Fellow of the Explorers Club; and a professor of law, University of Maine, School of Law.


Mirwais Masood

Mirwais Masood began his career teaching English for Afghan refugees in Islamabad, Pakistan in 1996. Five years later, Masood, who is originally from Kabul, became head of the English Language Programme (ELP) in Islamabad. In early 2002, he joined Media Action International (MAI) as assistant programme coordinator for Afghanistan. Masood worked on a number of different projects, notably the CROSSLINES Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan. He helped establish various MAI projects, such as the Novice Journalism Training Programme in conjunction with the universities of Kabul, Herat and Balkh, and was editor of the Dari-Pashto edition of the Afghanistan Monitor. Aside from his MAI activities, Masood has reported for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) plus researched for National Geographic. He is now working with UNICEF in Kabul.

Lola Cecchinel
While obtaining her Masters Degree in International Affairs from the prestigious Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Parism, Lola Cecchinel provided invaluable assistance in researching material for the 4th edition and in developing the electronic version. Following her development work, she spent several weeks in Kabul performing an evaluation of the field guide’s usefulness for the Fetzer Institute.  her findings were invaluable in helping to shape the current version.  Cecchinel, who studied Dari, is currently working in Kabul as a consultant, and continues to contribute to the Field Guide.




Mark Rafferty & Emily Pantalone 

Two associates from the Tufts University sponsored by the Institute for Global Leadership worked with the Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan team in Geneva during the summer of 2010. Both also provided research assistance for Edward Girardet’s book Killing the Cranes – A Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan.

Emily Pantalone from Pittsburgh, PA is studying International Relations at Tufts and is expected to graduate in May, 2012. She has been working with the National Security Archives in Washington DC as part of a collaborative research project comparing Soviet strategic decision-making in Afghanistan during the Cold War with the U.S. experience today.

Mark Rafferty is a research assitance with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and expects to receive his BA in International Relations at Tufts in May, 2013. His focus has been on the Middle East and Herat warlord Ismail Khan in Afghanistan.