Lost on Earth: Nomads of the New World

Mark Fritz, Author
Mark Fritz, Author Little Brown and Company $24.5 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-29478-2
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-415-92609-6
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Los Angeles Times correspondent Fritz presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of the world's new homeless--displaced by political upheaval or economic blight, by bloodbaths in Liberia, Kuwait and Sri Lanka, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany or the conflict in what used to be Yugoslavia. Fritz, who won a Pulitzer for his reporting from Rwanda, writes from a refreshingly international perspective born of legwork rather than glib assumptions of a ""global village."" In a departure from his conventional reporting, these frontline dispatches are deliberately hard-boiled and ironic, unfolding like a series of loosely interconnected short stories. He writes with streetwise empathy for his dislocated subjects, among them a software expert from Togo who flees the dictatorship after his mother-in-law informs him that his wife has been murdered by state security goons and a Kuwaiti-born factory worker/computer student in Germany, ostracized by his Arab friends (even though he is of Iraqi descent) who buy into Saddam Hussein's propaganda as Iraq invades Kuwait. Fritz also dramatically profiles heroic interlopers like Viennese private eye Herbert Puchwein, who spirited a busload of orphans out of war-torn Sarajevo, and American relief worker Mary Lightfine, who plunged into Somalia's civil war. Faulting an ""inherently weak"" United Nations and a timid, reluctant-to-get-involved United States, Fritz boldly calls for the creation of a freestanding global police force, with international volunteers under U.S. command, dedicated to preventing future wars, genocide and forced migrations. Agent, Sloan Harris. (Mar.)
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