Mayee's Reviews > Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival

Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper
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Jan 17, 09

Read in January, 2009

I admit that I was drawn to read this book mostly because my friend Wendy kept playing CNN on the telly when I was in Chicago last winter and the advertisement for the New Year's Show kept running. Anderson Cooper is the perfect poster boy for a romantic ideal of journalism -- the tough journalist who goes into places where other people turn a blind eye to because he cares, the journalist who gives voice to the anonymous victims who suffer in the face of disaster and the quiet heroes who work to save them. Here, Cooper provides a psychological backstory of trauma and grief as explanation for the motivation behind his career: the man had lost his father (heart attack) and his brother (suicide).

The narrative/memoir hovers between compelling and stilted, mostly due to the style of the writing which seems a bit weak. Cooper attempts to use metaphors and details to organise the narrative, jumping between his memories of his family and his memories reporting in Africa and on Hurricane Katrina, however, most of the prose is written in a pedestrian style somewhat resembling reportage; his style is strongest when describing his experiences in the field, but the personal parts, while revealing, tend to come across as slightly cliched (here, he is saved by his use of personal detail). He's certainly had experiences that are worth telling; I wish he just told them better.

An easy read for the plane or a book to read quickly over the weekend.
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