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Have you read: Anderson Cooper takes readers to disaster scenes

Mark Dulyanai

“Dispatches from the Edge” by Anderson Cooper

I have to preface this review with a confession: I do not own a TV, and I very rarely get to watch CNN. My exposure to television is limited, and I get most of my news from our local paper, radio and whatever I catch on the Internet. What I know of Anderson Cooper is purely from what he has posted on the CNN Web site.

Anderson Cooper is a privileged man who has had his share of heartbreak. Mr. Cooper is the son of famous jeans designer Gloria Vanderbilt and actor-author Wyatt Cooper. At age 10 his father passed away from a failing heart, and at age 20 his brother Carter committed suicide. These tragedies have deeply affected Anderson. Although he was born into great monetary wealth, Anderson has definitely taken the road less traveled. A Yale graduate, Cooper chose journalism as his “bliss.” Initially rejected by ABC, he broke into the business by having a press pass forged for him, going into Burma, and shooting footage on his own. This landed him a correspondent job with Channel One, and paved the way to his current job as a CNN anchor.

“Dispatches” is not for the feint of heart, as Cooper’s book is about “going to where the blood is” like a shark. The main topics of the book are the recent disasters that Cooper has covered, from the forced starvation genocide in Somalia to hurricanes Dennis and Katrina. His observations of such tragedies are insightful and powerful, yet sometimes impersonal. One can feel the inner journalist that resides in Cooper come out and objectify what he sees. At other times, we can feel the pain that resides in Cooper from what he must report upon. His observations upon “War, Disasters, and Survival” are interspersed with his own personal demons: the deaths of his father and his brother. These deaths have affected Anderson on a very deep level, and the way he deals with the external tragedies he covers is somewhat reflective of the manner he deals with his own personal tragedies.

At the heart of “Dispatches from the Edge” is tragedy. We experience both personal and external tragedy through an individual who has had more than his share. Through Anderson Cooper’s “Dispatches” we are able to experience the edge that he continually seeks. While “Dispatches from the Edge” is not light reading, it is a fascinating look at what tragedies bring us.

– Mark Dulyanai is a library assistant at the South Lake Tahoe Branch Library and an instructor at Blue Lake Aikido.


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