Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival
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Few people have witnessed more scenes of chaos and conflict around the world than Anderson Cooper, whose groundbreaking coverage on CNN has changed the way we watch the news. In this gripping, candid, and remarkably powerful memoir, he offers an unstinting, up-close view of the most harrowing crises of our time, and the profound impact they have had on his life.
After growing up on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Cooper felt a magnetic pull toward the unknown, an attraction to the far corners of the earth. If he could keep moving, and keep exploring, he felt he could stay one step ahead of his past, including the fame surrounding his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, and the tragic early deaths of his father and older brother. As a reporter, the frenetic pace of filing dispatches from war-torn countries, and the danger that came with it, helped him avoid having to look too closely at the pain and loss that was right in front of him.
But recently, during the course of one extraordinary, tumultuous year, it became impossible for him to continue to separate his work from his life, his family's troubled history from the suffering people he met all over the world. From the tsunami in Sri Lanka to the war in Iraq to the starvation in Niger and ultimately to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Mississippi, Cooper gives us a firsthand glimpse of the devastation that takes place, both physically and emotionally, when the normal order of things is violently ruptured on such a massive scale. Cooper had been in his share of life-threatening situations before -- ducking fire on the streets of war-torn Sarejevo, traveling on his own to famine-stricken Somalia, witnessing firsthand the genocide in Rwanda -- but he had never seen human misery quite like this. Writing with vivid memories of his childhood and early career as a roving correspondent, Cooper reveals for the first time how deeply affected he has been by the wars, disasters, and tragedies he has witnessed, and why he continues to be drawn to some of the most perilous places on earth.
Striking, heartfelt, and utterly engrossing, Dispatches from the Edge is an unforgettable memoir that takes us behind the scenes of the cataclysmic events of our age and allows us to see them through the eyes of one of America's most trusted, fearless, and pioneering reporters.
pain I was feeling inside. I needed balance, equilibrium, or as close to it as I could get. I also wanted to survive, and I thought I could learn from others who had. War seemed like my only option. Iraq INKBLOTS OF BLOOD IN COLLEGE I’D read a lot about the Vietnam War and the foreign correspondents who covered it. Their tales of night patrols and hot LZs made reporting sound like an adventure, one that was also worthwhile. News, however, is a hard business to break into. After
told her, “I think I’ve found my bliss.” SHORTLY AFTER I get back from Sri Lanka in the middle of January 2005, I notice that, professionally, something has changed. TV reporters call me requesting interviews about the tsunami. Colleagues tell me what a good job I’ve done. I appreciate the compliments, and don’t want to seem ungrateful, but the praise makes me uncomfortable. I’m glad people are interested in the story, but when they ask me what it was like, I’m not sure what to say. I don’t
their feet splayed out in front of them. Her elderly husband is there as well, standing in a group of men, off to the side. No one seems particularly surprised that Aminu has died. There is no crying, no wailing. Death has come to this village before. Aminu is the first child Zuera has lost, but nearly every mother here has lost at least one child. “He was a good boy, a gentle boy,” Zuera says softly. “They tried their best for him.” She holds her youngest child, Sani, in her arms. He is two
and doesn’t understand what’s happened to his brother. “He was always with Aminu,” Zuera says. “This morning he kept calling out his name.” Behind her, two women stand over waist-high wooden mortars, pounding millet into flour. The dull thud of the pestles, one after the other, the steady pulse of village life. I pick up a wooden pestle, shiny smooth at either end from years of sweat and scraping. It’s heavy and hard to imagine anyone wielding it day after day. The women laugh when I pretend to
back in the office about the woman we left on the street, and I find myself crying. I can’t even speak. I have to call that person back. At first I don’t realize what’s happening to me. It’s been years since a story made me cry. Sarajevo was probably the last time. I’ve never been on this kind of story, though, in my own country. It’s something I never expected to see. I used to get back from Somalia or Sarajevo and imagine what New York would look like in a war. Which buildings would crumble?