At Home in the World: Collected Writings from the Wall Street Journal

Daniel Pearl, Author, Helene Cooper, Editor, Mariane Pearl, Foreword by Free Press $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4317-9
One of the special talents of the late Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by Pakistani Islamic extremists earlier this year while working on a story, was creating arresting leads. ""Dusan Dujic has a seemingly modest ambition: to die in his own house,"" begins one of his stories, on the persistence of ethnic segregation in Croatia. ""This is a small town in search of a really big floor,"" begins another, on the world's largest carpet in Ben, Iran. Yet this collection, which gathers 50 of Pearl's pieces from the last 10 years, makes it clear that the clever opening line was the least of Pearl's talents: he fills his elegant stories with memorable, vivid characters without sacrificing complexity. Selected by Pearl's friend and colleague Cooper, assistant bureau chief of the Journal's Washington bureau, the articles showcase his foreign correspondence (he worked in the London, Paris and Bombay bureaus, as well as in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.) and some of his niches: music, tech and communications; the ""counterintuitive"" story (Hindu India has a thriving cow leather industry; the war in Kosovo was not really genocide). The range of subject matter is wide: he reports on Pashtun Afghani refugees cheerfully making a profit by buying up afghanis every time there is a Taliban battlefield defeat; a new technique for surgically extracting caviar from sturgeon without killing the fish; and a nine-year-old ""Little Miss Georgia"" who was stripped of her crown on the kiddie beauty pageant circuit. Cooper has done a nice job choosing stories with staying power; though a handful of them do feel like old news, most of these thoughtful and often witty pieces will be a treat for readers who missed them the first time around and the book as a whole stands as a fitting tribute to a journalist who lost his life in the pursuit of truth. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
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