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Elliott D. Woods

Elliott D. Woods is a contributing editor to VQR. His VQR-sponsored website Assignment Afghanistan received the 2011 Digital National Magazine Award for Multimedia Package. His essay “Digging Out,” from the Fall 2010 issue, was nominated for a 2011 National Magazine Award in Reporting. His essay “Hope’s Coffin,” from the Summer 2009 issue, received a citation for the Madeline Dane Ross Award from the Overseas Press Club. His other essays and photographs have appeared in Outside Magazine, Businessweek, Granta, Men’s Journal, and Mother Jones.

Author

Lieutenant Ponce Pilate Mbenga, a Central African Army officer with the Chinko Project, looks on as one of the rangers examines a leopard skin confiscated from Mbororo poachers during a camp raid.

The Fight for Chinko

Summer 2016 | Reporting

In the ungoverned wilds of the Central African Republic, a group of young conservationists uses every resource it can muster—from technology to armed confrontation—to protect a vital habitat.

Sunrise over the Loup River, one of Nebraska’s major waterways that locals believe is threatened by Keystone XL.

Line in the Sand

Fall 2013 | Reporting

Now that Senate Democrats have defeated legislation that would have approved construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, Republicans are promising to push the project through when they take control of the Senate next year. But this fight isn't always along predictable party lines. Reporting from Nebraska, a state at the heart of the pipeline's path, Elliott D. Woods explains why.

A boy rests under the treads of an Egyptian army tank in Tahrir Square, in downtown Cairo. Protesters gathered there beginning on January 25, 2011, calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled the country unopposed since 1981

The Faces of Tahrir Square

Winter 2012 | Reporting

Egyptian protests began on January 25, 2011, spurred in part by the success of protests in Tunisia and brought to a boil by a massive social media campaign. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were so effective in getting Egyptians out onto the streets that Mubarak shut down the Internet. 

The entryway to the church of Saint Simon the Tanner.

Garbage City

Spring 2011 | Essays

Perched atop the Moqattam Cliffs, where Pharaonic slaves cut limestone for the pyramids, the Monastery of Saint Simon and its accompanying cathedral boast a commanding view of Cairo. On a smog free day, if you peek around the cliffs to the south, you can see clear to the Great Pyramids of Giza. Looking west, you have a fine view of more recent history; you can almost throw a rock at the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din or into the endless expanse of tombs that make up el-Arafa—the City of the Dead. On the western horizon, the Cairo Tower stands apart from the deceptively modern skyline of downtown. Right below your feet, largely invisible to the outside world, you'll find Izbet Az-Zabaleen. The Garbage City, as it's known in English, is a hive of entrepreneurial recyclers called zabaleen, literally "garbage people," nestled at the edge of Manshiet Nasser, a teeming slum on Cairo's eastern outskirts.

 

Cairo Journal: February 4

February 17, 2011 | Reporting

A pair of Egyptian tanks had the entrance to the Qasr El-Nil Bridge sealed off, but the mood was relaxed, and no one seemed to notice the arrival of a foreigner toting a camera bag.

A State of Emergency

A Palestinian boy plays hide-and-seek behind a wall shelled by the Israeli Defense Forces during Operation Cast Lead.Children play in the Zeitoun neighborhood on the outskirts of Gaza City. Israeli ground troops withdrew from the Gaza Strip on Janua [...]

Digging Out

Fall 2010 | Reporting

The miners take turns chopping the coalface. All around us a jury-rigged jumble of tree trunks is wedged against the tunnel’s ceiling, our only protection from being crushed by the five hundred meters of rock between here and the floor of the northern Afghan desert. My claustrophobia mounts with every chunk of coal that dings off my plastic helmet. One miner crouches in the access shaft and shovels coal into an iron railcar. My headlamp catches his face, and I see his teeth are flecked with black.

Easter in Gaza

I In the daytime, the old quarter of Gaza City is a zoo of people and cars. The air is dusty, infused with engine exhaust and the earthy odor of falafel grease. The city’s biggest souk—al-Fras—covers several square blocks, a maze of corrugated [...]

The Path to Yaghestan

In the remote mountain villages of Afghanistan, fighting factionalism may be like fighting gravity. A CH-47 Chinook helicopter doorgunner on the approach to FOB Airborne in Wardak Province. “The people of Afghanistan represent m [...]

The Soft Knock

October 9, 2009 | Reporting

Without warning, a hobbled old Afghan man comes around the corner, surprising the soldier guarding the door. The soldier yells, “Stop!” The old man inches forward on his cane.

Hope’s Coffin

For a generation of young people, the Gaza Strip has become a place where dreams go to die. Young boys stand amid the wreckage of their family home in Jabaliya. Tents erected by aid organizations for the newly homeless were flooded by heavy ra [...]

Into Gaza

January 17, 2009 | Reporting

Egypt allowed fifty foreign journalists into Gaza through the Rafah gate. I was one of them.

A Few Unforeseen Things

The aftermath of the Mosul chow hall bombing, December 21, 2004 (Dean Hoffmeyer, Richmond Times-Dispatch / AP Photo). On an otherwise typical, sun-parched afternoon at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez in Mosul, Iraq, four days before Chr [...]

Photographer

The entryway to the church of Saint Simon the Tanner.

Garbage City

Spring 2011 | Essays

Perched atop the Moqattam Cliffs, where Pharaonic slaves cut limestone for the pyramids, the Monastery of Saint Simon and its accompanying cathedral boast a commanding view of Cairo. On a smog free day, if you peek around the cliffs to the south, you can see clear to the Great Pyramids of Giza. Looking west, you have a fine view of more recent history; you can almost throw a rock at the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din or into the endless expanse of tombs that make up el-Arafa—the City of the Dead. On the western horizon, the Cairo Tower stands apart from the deceptively modern skyline of downtown. Right below your feet, largely invisible to the outside world, you'll find Izbet Az-Zabaleen. The Garbage City, as it's known in English, is a hive of entrepreneurial recyclers called zabaleen, literally "garbage people," nestled at the edge of Manshiet Nasser, a teeming slum on Cairo's eastern outskirts.

 

Digging Out

Fall 2010 | Reporting

The miners take turns chopping the coalface. All around us a jury-rigged jumble of tree trunks is wedged against the tunnel’s ceiling, our only protection from being crushed by the five hundred meters of rock between here and the floor of the northern Afghan desert. My claustrophobia mounts with every chunk of coal that dings off my plastic helmet. One miner crouches in the access shaft and shovels coal into an iron railcar. My headlamp catches his face, and I see his teeth are flecked with black.