In 2002, after leaving a university job in New Zealand and moving to Moscow, John Dolan invented the pseudonym Gary Brecher, a character he imagined as a smart, unhappy data-entry clerk in Fresno, California. Under that pseudonym, John began to write “the War Nerd” column for the Exile, a satirical Moscow-based newspaper that was destined to be shut down by the Kremlin some years later. Having won many enemies and few friends through his position at the Exile, John moved from country to country, seeking out work wherever he could. Eventually, he and his former editor started the podcast “Radio War Nerd.” Through all of this, John gathered stories from his travels, some of which would go on to be included in his recently published book Erdogan Pizza.
In this episode, Nathan and John discuss how John ended up in New Zealand, Moscow, and later the Middle East and Indonesia; the event that had John on the edge of sacrificing his pursuit of the truth; the circumstances that led him to compile his travel stories into Erdogan Pizza; why he developed a sense of black humor in his writing; and much more.
Listen to the full conversation here: