Iraqis likened Emma Sky to the early twentieth-century British adventurer Gertrude Bell, one of the architects of modern Iraq. She is a formidable internationalist, with experience spanning the fields of development, diplomacy and defense. As a civilian and staunch opponent of the invasion of Iraq, she became political advisor to US general Ray Odierno in that country. Her book The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq, shortlisted for the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize For Non-Fiction, fathoms Middle East politics and the rise of the self-styled Islamic State and sheds light on the difficulties of navigating a decidedly foreign land. In conversation with Simon Wilson. Supported by Westpac.