Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters and Survival

Anderson Cooper, Author . HarperCollins $25.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-06-113238-4

HarperCollins touts the handsome, prematurely gray host of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360° as the "prototype for a twenty-first century newsman." Sadly, that statement is all too true. This brief, self-involved narrative reaffirms a troubling cultural shift in news coverage: journalists used to cover the story; now, more than ever, they are the story. Cooper is an intrepid reporter: he's traveled to tsunami-ravaged Asia, famine-plagued Niger, war-torn Somalia and Iraq, and New Orleans post-Katrina. Here, however, the plights of the people and places he visits take a backseat to the fact that Cooper is, well, there. The Yale-educated son of heiress and designer Gloria Vanderbilt weaves personal tragedies (at 10, he lost his father to heart disease and later his older brother to suicide) awkwardly into far graver stories of suffering he's observing. Even when he plies the reader with his own unease ("the more sadness I saw, the more success I had") and obliquely decries TV news's demand for images of extreme misery ("merely sick won't warrant more than a cut-away shot"), he seems to place himself in front of his subjects. Cooper is an intelligent, passionate man and he may be a terrific journalist. But this book leaves one feeling he's little more than a television personality. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-06-145151-5
Paperback - 222 pages - 978-0-06-113668-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-121434-9
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-118983-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 240 pages - 978-0-06-118986-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-121433-2
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-118988-3
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-06-113805-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-113780-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4159-3746-4
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