Nothing about my childhood portended a career in war journalism. As an only child rattling around the top floors of townhouses on the Upper East Side and Belgravia, with an ever-revolving door of nannies, the pain and privation of war could not have been more remote.

My workaholic American mother was the self-described “architect” of my life. She organized for me to be ferried from ballet to ice-skating to tennis and piano lessons. She had, and still has, a strong opinion about pretty much everything, from her disdain for sunsets—“they’re corny and boring”—to her love of Walgreens—“America has the greatest drugstores on earth.” Her professional life has been dedicated to creating beautiful houses. “I’m a spatial genius,” she often says. Modesty has never been her strong suit.