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Book Review

Dispatches from the Edge, by Anderson Cooper (HarperCollins, 2006)

Dispatches from the Edge offers more than a description of a journalist covering wars and natural disasters around the globe. This is also a highly personal account of the experience, and it is by one of the heirs to the Vanderbilt fortune.

This viewpoint is unique. Here we see and feel compassion with the people who are suffering tragedy, and it comes to us from Andersonís heart.

As nonfiction, the book is mystifying, for it seems to defy the rules. While its Table of Contents separates the story into geographic areas, the text does not. Instead, the reader is treated to seemingly random (but emotionally related) vignettes of Anderson as he reports from Iraq, Rwanda, Viet Name, etc. And yet, as he jumps from Sarajevo to Soweto, all but the sophisticated reader will allow these places to blur, for the vignette is a close-up, and fails to give us the big picture (in this case, the name of the country).

I accept the book as impressionistic coverage, for I could not escape very powerful scenes describing Andersonís personal life before he deliberately launched into the journalistic career. In fact, having read this, I wonder why other reporters havenít given us such background, for so often we detect such bitterness and bias in their coverage that we have to wonder why they have chosen such a career.

Read dispatches from the edge. Itís truly honest journalism, and well worth the read.



Bruce Cook, Ph.D.



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