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Dispatches From The Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival

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In 2005, two tragedies--the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina--turned CNN reporter Anderson Cooper into a media celebrity. Dispatches from the Edge, Cooper's memoir of "war, disasters and survival," is a brief but powerful chronicle of Cooper's ascent to stardom and his struggle with his own tragedies and demons. Cooper was 10 years old when his father, Wyatt Cooper, di In 2005, two tragedies--the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina--turned CNN reporter Anderson Cooper into a media celebrity. Dispatches from the Edge, Cooper's memoir of "war, disasters and survival," is a brief but powerful chronicle of Cooper's ascent to stardom and his struggle with his own tragedies and demons. Cooper was 10 years old when his father, Wyatt Cooper, died during heart bypass surgery. He was 20 when his beloved older brother, Carter, committed suicide by jumping off his mother's penthouse balcony (his mother, by the way, being Gloria Vanderbilt). The losses profoundly affected Cooper, who fled home after college to work as a freelance journalist for Channel One, the classroom news service. Covering tragedies in far-flung places like Burma, Vietnam, and Somalia, Cooper quickly learned that "as a journalist, no matter ... how respectful you are, part of your brain remains focused on how to capture the horror you see, how to package it, present it to others." Cooper's description of these horrors, from war-ravaged Baghdad to famine-wracked Niger, is poignant but surprisingly unsentimental. In Niger, Cooper writes, he is chagrined, then resigned, when he catches himself looking for the "worst cases" to commit to film. "They die, I live. It's the way of the world," he writes. In the final section of Dispatches, Cooper describes covering Hurricane Katrina, the story that made him famous. The transcript of his showdown with Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (in which Cooper tells Landrieu people in New Orleans are "ashamed of what is happening in this country right now") is worth the price of admission on its own. Cooper's memoir leaves some questions unanswered--there's frustratingly little about his personal life, for example--but remains a vivid, modest self-portrait by a man who is proving himself to be an admirable, courageous leader in a medium that could use more like him. --Erica C. Barnett


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In 2005, two tragedies--the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina--turned CNN reporter Anderson Cooper into a media celebrity. Dispatches from the Edge, Cooper's memoir of "war, disasters and survival," is a brief but powerful chronicle of Cooper's ascent to stardom and his struggle with his own tragedies and demons. Cooper was 10 years old when his father, Wyatt Cooper, di In 2005, two tragedies--the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina--turned CNN reporter Anderson Cooper into a media celebrity. Dispatches from the Edge, Cooper's memoir of "war, disasters and survival," is a brief but powerful chronicle of Cooper's ascent to stardom and his struggle with his own tragedies and demons. Cooper was 10 years old when his father, Wyatt Cooper, died during heart bypass surgery. He was 20 when his beloved older brother, Carter, committed suicide by jumping off his mother's penthouse balcony (his mother, by the way, being Gloria Vanderbilt). The losses profoundly affected Cooper, who fled home after college to work as a freelance journalist for Channel One, the classroom news service. Covering tragedies in far-flung places like Burma, Vietnam, and Somalia, Cooper quickly learned that "as a journalist, no matter ... how respectful you are, part of your brain remains focused on how to capture the horror you see, how to package it, present it to others." Cooper's description of these horrors, from war-ravaged Baghdad to famine-wracked Niger, is poignant but surprisingly unsentimental. In Niger, Cooper writes, he is chagrined, then resigned, when he catches himself looking for the "worst cases" to commit to film. "They die, I live. It's the way of the world," he writes. In the final section of Dispatches, Cooper describes covering Hurricane Katrina, the story that made him famous. The transcript of his showdown with Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (in which Cooper tells Landrieu people in New Orleans are "ashamed of what is happening in this country right now") is worth the price of admission on its own. Cooper's memoir leaves some questions unanswered--there's frustratingly little about his personal life, for example--but remains a vivid, modest self-portrait by a man who is proving himself to be an admirable, courageous leader in a medium that could use more like him. --Erica C. Barnett

30 review for Dispatches From The Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    It's unbelievable that many reviews for this book tend to focus on the completely irrelevant fact that Anderson Cooper is gay. It proves his point about how many simply forget about disasters. Here the book outlines disasters all over the world and goes into extreme detail about Hurricane Katrina and yet "Is he really gay" are the words in the first reviews that pop up. Some of you folks make me sick. This book is intense. The Hurricane Katrina piece is especially jarring. I highly recommend this It's unbelievable that many reviews for this book tend to focus on the completely irrelevant fact that Anderson Cooper is gay. It proves his point about how many simply forget about disasters. Here the book outlines disasters all over the world and goes into extreme detail about Hurricane Katrina and yet "Is he really gay" are the words in the first reviews that pop up. Some of you folks make me sick. This book is intense. The Hurricane Katrina piece is especially jarring. I highly recommend this easy to read, not so easy to digest account of what it was like behind the cameras. Behind the things a puritanical society won't allow to be shown, or spoken of, on television. This is a shockingly heartfelt memoir, far away from such immature questions about the authors sexuality.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Book Maven

    Dispatches from the edge was a very...not edgy book. Entertaining and enlightening perhaps, but but it is more likely to be that to someone who does not listen to NPR or BBC, or just does not know what is going on in the world. Cooper is a talented, ballsy reporter, no doubt, and his reports and blogs are great and informative, but this book, at least for me, was very much "nothing new under the moon." Entertaining, and a little sad, but not much else. Also, his narrative timeframe was a little Dispatches from the edge was a very...not edgy book. Entertaining and enlightening perhaps, but but it is more likely to be that to someone who does not listen to NPR or BBC, or just does not know what is going on in the world. Cooper is a talented, ballsy reporter, no doubt, and his reports and blogs are great and informative, but this book, at least for me, was very much "nothing new under the moon." Entertaining, and a little sad, but not much else. Also, his narrative timeframe was a little disjointed; he bounced around a lot in time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Felipa

    I initially had stopped reading this book at the mid point because I found it very depressing and thought Cooper's endless pursuits of finding the next tragedy and trauma a little exploitive. It wasn't until I decided to finish it and got to the chapter on Katrina that I began to see how much Cooper cares about the people behind the stories and how the tragedies of others have helped him deal with tragedy in his own life. I found his experiences as a journalist difficult to read at times but ver I initially had stopped reading this book at the mid point because I found it very depressing and thought Cooper's endless pursuits of finding the next tragedy and trauma a little exploitive. It wasn't until I decided to finish it and got to the chapter on Katrina that I began to see how much Cooper cares about the people behind the stories and how the tragedies of others have helped him deal with tragedy in his own life. I found his experiences as a journalist difficult to read at times but very interesting.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Book on CD read by the author This is Cooper’s memoir of how he came to be a senior anchor for CNN. The chapters are divided according to various memorable assignments covering war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, famine in Niger, a tsunami in Sri Lanka, and culminating with his coverage of Hurricane Katrina and that storm’s effects on New Orleans and the gulf coast area of Mississippi. Throughout he recalls his early childhood, as one tender or distressing scene brings back memories of his family. He’s a Book on CD read by the author This is Cooper’s memoir of how he came to be a senior anchor for CNN. The chapters are divided according to various memorable assignments covering war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, famine in Niger, a tsunami in Sri Lanka, and culminating with his coverage of Hurricane Katrina and that storm’s effects on New Orleans and the gulf coast area of Mississippi. Throughout he recalls his early childhood, as one tender or distressing scene brings back memories of his family. He’s a talented journalist and one thing that makes him so is his ability to distance himself from what he is reporting. And yet, it’s clear that he is deeply affected by what he witnesses. I think this may be especially evident when listening to his audio performance, and I think that added to the experience for me. Having Cooper read his own memoir really made it feel as if I were listening to him relate stories from his life while sitting in my own living room. He’s a trained television journalist, so his delivery is clean and moves along at a good pace. However, I was struck by how frequently he swallows syllables at the end of a word. I expected a crisper diction, I guess. The text includes photos from his childhood and the memorable assignments covered in this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Britt

    I know, I know. Really? Only partway thru...But who would've thought the gay son of Gloria Vanderbuilt would toss himself into war-torn countries in his tender 20's just to get the story. He is such an amazingly brave and complicated fellow. Not just that annoying CNN guy. Wow. Liking the memoir so far...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gayle

    I have always thought of Anderson Cooper as a thoughtful-looking self-contained news guy, and expected this book to be a fair amount of self-promotional blather interspersed with a few biographical details. Instead, I found that Anderson Cooper, in addition to being a t-l s-c news guy, writes like one. This memoir is thoughtful, self-contained, filled with news-that-was, and surprisingly well written. (My expectations are seldom high.) The wars are comprehensive--Bosnia, Somalia, Niger, Iraq. The I have always thought of Anderson Cooper as a thoughtful-looking self-contained news guy, and expected this book to be a fair amount of self-promotional blather interspersed with a few biographical details. Instead, I found that Anderson Cooper, in addition to being a t-l s-c news guy, writes like one. This memoir is thoughtful, self-contained, filled with news-that-was, and surprisingly well written. (My expectations are seldom high.) The wars are comprehensive--Bosnia, Somalia, Niger, Iraq. The disasters are earth-shattering news--Sri Lanka after the tsunami, Rwanda at the beginning of the starvation, Hurricane Katrina--and life-shattering personal tragedies--the death of his father when he was ten, and the harrowing suicide of his only brother while he was at college. The survival is his own, both personally and professionally. Stories of his childhood and personal life are interspersed with behind-the-scenes reviews of the headline news he covered, from his first post-college foray into Thailand as a freelancer to his four-week CNN coverage of Hurricane Katrina damage from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Cooper's knack of stringing these seemingly-disparate stories into a cohesive whole is a testament to his intelligence and skill. Add to that his ability to completely sidestep any personal life he might have had since 1991, and his skills ratchet up even higher. (You think I exaggerate? Careful reading reveals the existence of a dog, friends, and a phone call to his mother.) So, if you think you could like this, read it. You will.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Frenje

    I've never really watched much of Anderson Cooper's reporting, though I think I might try to a bit more from now on. Actually, up until I read this book, the image his name brought to mind was the snazzy trailer CNN had of him, which somehow always made me think he was one of those uber successful guys who's just a bit too aware of how successful he is. So the book was a bit of a surprise. I picked it up expecting to hear a bit about the news stories he's covered, and he certainly provides that i I've never really watched much of Anderson Cooper's reporting, though I think I might try to a bit more from now on. Actually, up until I read this book, the image his name brought to mind was the snazzy trailer CNN had of him, which somehow always made me think he was one of those uber successful guys who's just a bit too aware of how successful he is. So the book was a bit of a surprise. I picked it up expecting to hear a bit about the news stories he's covered, and he certainly provides that in snippets. But the book is also stunningly personal. And by end, I'm struck by the odd thought that I just want to give him a big hug. There's such an honesty and vulnerability with which he writes -- aren't honesty and vulnerability after all two sides of the same coin? -- and as much as he is a very successful reporter, he's also extremely human. But what I find sad is that while he asks his reader not to forget all the tragedies the world has witnessed -- for most of us, only at a distance, with the smells and the horror filtered through the cable news -- I don't think I can really make myself think about these sad and unnecessary losses except in short spurts. It all just gets too overwhelming after awhile. So I guess, in a way, I'm grateful that there're people like him, who can go on throwing themselves into conflict after conflict, and to make sure that when we do get the nerve to switch back to the news, that someone's still there telling the stories we all wish didn't exist to be told.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Devastation can be physical as in the tsunami in Sri Lanka, famine in Africa, and Hurricane Katrina or emotional when the unexpected delivers a sucker punch from which you think you can not recover. In this memoir, Anderson Cooper reveals the emotional voids created in his life by the death of his father when he was ten years old and the suicide of his elder brother when he was in college. He also details how those tragedies caused him to lose any sense of safety and to try to avoid and dull his Devastation can be physical as in the tsunami in Sri Lanka, famine in Africa, and Hurricane Katrina or emotional when the unexpected delivers a sucker punch from which you think you can not recover. In this memoir, Anderson Cooper reveals the emotional voids created in his life by the death of his father when he was ten years old and the suicide of his elder brother when he was in college. He also details how those tragedies caused him to lose any sense of safety and to try to avoid and dull his emotions by being constantly on the move and placing himself in dangerous situations to avoid facing his demons. In the early days of his career, Cooper faked press credentials, eventually was hired as a foreign correspondent by Channel One, moved to ABC, and finally found a home at CNN. Along the way he spent time in Sarejevo, Somalia, and Rwanda. But 2005 turned out to be a defining year beginning with the tsunami in Asia, several trips to Iraq, Niger where people, especially children, were starving, and ending with Hurricanes Katrine and Rita in the southern United States. During this year of almost constant travel to some of the worse disasters in recent years, Cooper is finally forced to confront his own pain, face his memories, and begin to rethink his priorities. A compelling read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Hopkins

    God this was magnificent. Anderson Cooper weaves his own personal history with death and loss into his work covering tragedy across the globe in a way that's so profound...I picked this up thinking it'd just be stories and anecdotes from his assignments covering wars and disasters but it's so much more than that, and I love the epilogue and final words he leaves us with. It's from 2006, so it's pretty 'dated' in terms of his career and who he was/what he was doing at the time it was published, b God this was magnificent. Anderson Cooper weaves his own personal history with death and loss into his work covering tragedy across the globe in a way that's so profound...I picked this up thinking it'd just be stories and anecdotes from his assignments covering wars and disasters but it's so much more than that, and I love the epilogue and final words he leaves us with. It's from 2006, so it's pretty 'dated' in terms of his career and who he was/what he was doing at the time it was published, but I like having that remove and reading something that was published before he was truly FAMOUS-famous.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    A difficult read, but an important one. What struck me the most was how much we see history repeating itself when it comes to devastating events and the failure to act. From a police officer after Hurricane Katrina: “Man, all I can pray is an independent commission comes in and looks at what happened. Whether or not there are criminal charges, at least the public knows who to vote for next time. The poor planning caused a lot of people to die. There was no plan, there was no plan.” It happened b A difficult read, but an important one. What struck me the most was how much we see history repeating itself when it comes to devastating events and the failure to act. From a police officer after Hurricane Katrina: “Man, all I can pray is an independent commission comes in and looks at what happened. Whether or not there are criminal charges, at least the public knows who to vote for next time. The poor planning caused a lot of people to die. There was no plan, there was no plan.” It happened before, it's happening now, and it will happen again. Please vote.

  11. 4 out of 5

    The Reading Raccoon

    Read for Read Harder 2019: “book written by a journalist” Interesting behind the scenes stories of Anderson’s own personal life interspersed with reporting from Sarajevo, Iraq and post-Katrina Louisiana/Mississippi.

  12. 5 out of 5

    C.J. Edmunds

    Why do people write memoirs? Because they want to understand the life they lead by looking back at the life they led. Why do people read memoirs? More or less the same reason, but just reversed. Isn’t it rather fashionable to read about someone else’s life, learn what you can and quote it next time in casual conversation in order to pass oneself as learned? Sure we can. At times we do and even get a kick out of it equally, especially when someone takes notice of it and marvels at your apt usage of it Why do people write memoirs? Because they want to understand the life they lead by looking back at the life they led. Why do people read memoirs? More or less the same reason, but just reversed. Isn’t it rather fashionable to read about someone else’s life, learn what you can and quote it next time in casual conversation in order to pass oneself as learned? Sure we can. At times we do and even get a kick out of it equally, especially when someone takes notice of it and marvels at your apt usage of it and at the significance of such a tidbit. Admittedly, what drew me in to buy & read the book is the author himself; a prominent anchorman and news personality on CNN and hosts his own show, AC360. And even if he went by another name, who wouldn’t take notice of him; of his piercing stare, his clear and crisp commentaries and equally creative repartee with his guests. Not to mention his distinguished looks; all grey-haired and smart looking. Yes, Anderson Cooper is well liked. When I found this hardbound 1st edition at a Book Sale branch in Makati, I liked it all the more because I didn’t have to order it from Amazon as Powerbooks don’t have it and it only cost me only P70, which is roughly $1.56 just to get to know him. Born into a family of wealth and opportunity, Anderson is the son of famous fashion designer, Gloria Vanderbilt. But he traded all that to live his life, to pursue and discover his calling, wherever it may take him. The book touches on his reminiscing about his father, of his own identity crisis after he died and the chasm that threatened to pull his family apart that claimed his brother’s life as well, for he took his own life by jumping off their condo balcony, just minutes after speaking to his mother. There are no words for situations like these but somehow Anderson has managed to weave all of this family history and drama into the dream that ever more gets strengthened and tested whenever he travels to other countries like Sarajevo, Nigeria, Iraq, Indonesia and more recently in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck the city in 2005. Finishing the book tonight and reading his entries about missing his father, I can’t help but think of my own; how my Dad’s own passing changed me and continues to do so and affect me in profound ways that I could not have predicted. They always say that life is for the living and that the good of men (as well as the bad) are often interred with their bones. And knowing that it is said often; might we not rock the foundation just a little bit and remember properly those who died? That what they left behind propels us to look inward and decide for ourselves what and how much can we leave behind, when it is time to do so? I may not be a parent yet. But when the time comes, I would want to do the same for my child, be they be a son or a daughter. That as a child, you live your life in accordance with what you parents have taught you, what your values dictate. And in so doing, you honor their life and memory by giving and living your life; giving it the best show that you can give. So far the best shots that I have given have resulted and manifested in creative endeavours like the release of my first album, dedicated to Dad and also embarked on the writing of my first book which I am dedicating to Mom who has strongly carried on for us and whom we equally feed and give our own strength back to whenever needed. Although 3 years after Dad’s passing, I may not be a crack shot just yet, I can at least say that I’ve managed to aim dead center and increase my chances of getting a bullseye. Target up. Ready. Aim. Fire. Bullseye. ……Next Round please.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    It was pretty good. I think I got more into it when Anderson described his experiences with Hurricane Katrina.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anashuya Kakati

    I picked up this book in my 'memoirs reading phase'. Actually, I have never watched any of Anderson Cooper's shows. So for me it was a clean slate when I started reading the book. I feel Mr. Cooper has squeezed the 'pathos' lemon a little too hard, and the taste by the end was utterly bitter. I appreciate his sharing of many heart wrenching stories which are absolutely unimaginable. But the thing with stories like these is that there is no need to add extra zing to them. After a hundred pages or I picked up this book in my 'memoirs reading phase'. Actually, I have never watched any of Anderson Cooper's shows. So for me it was a clean slate when I started reading the book. I feel Mr. Cooper has squeezed the 'pathos' lemon a little too hard, and the taste by the end was utterly bitter. I appreciate his sharing of many heart wrenching stories which are absolutely unimaginable. But the thing with stories like these is that there is no need to add extra zing to them. After a hundred pages or so, a feeling of numbness charges through the mind, which is not easy to shake off. Along with this book, I also was reading "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" by Ishmael Beah . Despite its controversy, the story-telling style used by the author was so realistic that it humbles one down to being extra happy for all we have got. I believe Mr. Cooper also realizes the numbness he is creating as he does check himself from time to time to the incredulous nature of his job. As it is said, that the best story we can tell is the one of ourselves. The story of his brother weaved into the book was heartfelt and his reactions much more real.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    This is no bit of fluff tossed off by rich kid Cooper. Despite his silver spoon, Cooper has seen his share of tragedy and emotional hardship. The travails of his mother were the stuff of tabloid delight, but did you know that his brother committed suicide when Anderson was still in college? It is clear that this haunts him to this day. Cooper, his protestations notwithstanding, is clearly an adrenaline junky. He has enough self-awareness that he sought treatment for this addiction. It did not ta This is no bit of fluff tossed off by rich kid Cooper. Despite his silver spoon, Cooper has seen his share of tragedy and emotional hardship. The travails of his mother were the stuff of tabloid delight, but did you know that his brother committed suicide when Anderson was still in college? It is clear that this haunts him to this day. Cooper, his protestations notwithstanding, is clearly an adrenaline junky. He has enough self-awareness that he sought treatment for this addiction. It did not take. He describes his experiences in various hardship locales (South Africa, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, post-Katrina) in a moving manner. The details he offers certainly add considerable texture to what we know of a correspondent’s perils. The information he shares about his family make him a very human reporter.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Selena

    Very good book! Couldn't put it down and read it in just two days! Definitely helps you appreciate what you have in life. I'm so thankful I can walk down the street without fear of a bomb blowing up, or worrying if my child have proper nutrition.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Powerful, riveting, beautiful, passionate. It made me cry. Highly reccomended and a new favourite of mine.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Chambers

    I really wanted to give this a 5, but reading about how ill prepared America is to handle a crisis is not something I needed to read this week.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Blanca

    Very sad book! Holy smokes, his assessment of the disaster after Hurricane Katrina and the bedlam that was New Orleans is a real eye opener. His family history is haunting. His honesty is actually unnerving. I thoroughly enjoyed the book although the truth is, I would rather it never had had to be written.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Victoria *Three Stars Still Means I Liked It* Johnson

    I LOVED this memoir. The section about Katrina was absolutely heart-wrenching.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Goodfellow-Olmsted

    Listened to the audio book. Love that it is narrated by the author.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ritattoo

    This book has a very unique tone. Until the chapter “Aftermath”, he talks of everything like... like an alien! Like, no passion, no emotions, a total outsider. It was almost scary. I wonder, hearing fragments of his life, how he leads his daily life now?

  23. 5 out of 5

    John Devlin

    Very in the moment of Hurricane Katrina and that episode takes up too much of the small book but Cooper writes well and is aware of the contradictions that being In The Media demands. More affecting are stories of African famine, Bosnia, and Mogadishu.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Norma Dushack

    I really enjoyed this book. It was done in a journalistic style, which I really like. Plain and simple . It also show his more sensitive side.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I stumbled upon this book a few days ago and am very glad that I did. It's a quick, but significant read. I've never really paid that much attention to news anchors, but Anderson Cooper's life is worth a story. Born into the Vanderbilt lineage, Cooper lost his father and his brother at an early age. He has spent the rest of his life trying to cope with both of those losses and chose the medium of field reporting in order to do so. This particular book chronicles Cooper's 2005, a year fraught wit I stumbled upon this book a few days ago and am very glad that I did. It's a quick, but significant read. I've never really paid that much attention to news anchors, but Anderson Cooper's life is worth a story. Born into the Vanderbilt lineage, Cooper lost his father and his brother at an early age. He has spent the rest of his life trying to cope with both of those losses and chose the medium of field reporting in order to do so. This particular book chronicles Cooper's 2005, a year fraught with the tsunami, the Iraq war, famine in Niger, and of course, Hurricane Katrina. Cooper shares his bird's eye view, having covered them all from the front lines. This book is much more than an annual almanac, however. Cooper weaves his life story into the disasters of 2005, and in the process, connects his losses with those of the greater world. If I had criticisms of the book, it would be that the writing is sometimes choppy (very news headline-ish) and the tangential stories told in the midst of chapters can make the timeline a bit confusing. However, I see what Cooper is doing - this book is almost a stream of consciousness for him as he tries to come to terms with the losses in his life. Beyond that, Cooper offers a window into the dissension that goes on in the mind of a journalist, attempting to maintain journalistic objectivity while remaining a compassionate human. It's a timely topic as the issue has arisen several times in Haiti. In any case, I highly recommend this book. To be sure, it is less than uplifting and offers a window into some of the more tortured parts of the human experience, but it's brutally honest about it. In addition, for anyone who's ever lost someone in their life, I found this book as a bit of a salve and I definitely recommend it. Finally, the book only added to the respect I've been building for Anderson Cooper in watching him cover the Haiti earthquake. He seems to be the model of what journalism should be.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Josh McConnell

    A journalist's duty is to tell someone else's story. Personal opinion is to be put to the wayside as the journalist steps back and allows others to be heard when they normally don't have a voice on their own. So when a book from a respected journalist is released, I'm always curious to see how much of their personality shines through. Now we finally are able to get a glimpse inside their personal thoughts and experiences; unadulterated and ready for consumption. Anderson Cooper's Dispatches From A journalist's duty is to tell someone else's story. Personal opinion is to be put to the wayside as the journalist steps back and allows others to be heard when they normally don't have a voice on their own. So when a book from a respected journalist is released, I'm always curious to see how much of their personality shines through. Now we finally are able to get a glimpse inside their personal thoughts and experiences; unadulterated and ready for consumption. Anderson Cooper's Dispatches From The Edge is a fascinating book from start to finish. As I devoured the pages in a single day, I felt as if I got to know Anderson personally. Much like a drama series on television, the book seamlessly jumps back and forth between Anderson situated in the middle of catastrophic events and flashbacks to his formative years. On one page we are with Anderson as he is witnessing carnage in Iraq, while on the next we are hearing about the death of his father and the suicide of his brother. We learn about the crucial points in his life that have built up Anderson's character, then seeing how they relate to his modern day experiences. This sort of back and forth is fluid and natural with each picture being painted so vividly that you feel you are right there alongside him. Much like his journalism career, Anderson brings to our attention dire circumstances from around the world and tells the story for those who voices would remain silent. This speaks volume of his character as he could have took the easy way out by writing a book all about him. Instead, we receive insight into Anderson's life as well as education on horrific global events directly from the frontline. Dispatches From The Edge is inspirational and begs to be read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mayee

    I admit that I was drawn to read this book mostly because my friend Wendy kept playing CNN on the telly when I was in Chicago last winter and the advertisement for the New Year's Show kept running. Anderson Cooper is the perfect poster boy for a romantic ideal of journalism -- the tough journalist who goes into places where other people turn a blind eye to because he cares, the journalist who gives voice to the anonymous victims who suffer in the face of disaster and the quiet heroes who work to I admit that I was drawn to read this book mostly because my friend Wendy kept playing CNN on the telly when I was in Chicago last winter and the advertisement for the New Year's Show kept running. Anderson Cooper is the perfect poster boy for a romantic ideal of journalism -- the tough journalist who goes into places where other people turn a blind eye to because he cares, the journalist who gives voice to the anonymous victims who suffer in the face of disaster and the quiet heroes who work to save them. Here, Cooper provides a psychological backstory of trauma and grief as explanation for the motivation behind his career: the man had lost his father (heart attack) and his brother (suicide). The narrative/memoir hovers between compelling and stilted, mostly due to the style of the writing which seems a bit weak. Cooper attempts to use metaphors and details to organise the narrative, jumping between his memories of his family and his memories reporting in Africa and on Hurricane Katrina, however, most of the prose is written in a pedestrian style somewhat resembling reportage; his style is strongest when describing his experiences in the field, but the personal parts, while revealing, tend to come across as slightly cliched (here, he is saved by his use of personal detail). He's certainly had experiences that are worth telling; I wish he just told them better. An easy read for the plane or a book to read quickly over the weekend.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Reuter

    Anderson Cooper is a journalist and writes like one. Dispatches from the Edge is bare bones, not a word wasted or a tangent followed. He lost his father and brother as a child, thus he grew obsessed with finding extreme feeling, which led him to take risks as a newsman. This is not to say the book lacks emotion; Anderson describes his grief, his obsessions, and his mistakes with the same quick precision that he uses to describe Katrina's devistation. I was impressed by how much feeling, how much Anderson Cooper is a journalist and writes like one. Dispatches from the Edge is bare bones, not a word wasted or a tangent followed. He lost his father and brother as a child, thus he grew obsessed with finding extreme feeling, which led him to take risks as a newsman. This is not to say the book lacks emotion; Anderson describes his grief, his obsessions, and his mistakes with the same quick precision that he uses to describe Katrina's devistation. I was impressed by how much feeling, how much detail, he could show in each concise sentence. The result is a quick read, which is disappointing. I would love for him to write about a broader range of things; he described this one part of his life so well I wanted to know more. Particularly since this book is so short--don't believe the page count, there's loads of blank spaces and a large typesize to pad it. What's on the page is great, gripping, moving, and well-written. But this was a book, not a news report; trailing off a little, adding in another subject, would not have weakened it. -Elizabeth Reuter Author, The Demon of Renaissance Drive

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Quintana

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. When I see Anderson Cooper reporting for CNN, I see a strong, articulate, through journalist. When I see him next to Kelley Ripa on ABC's "Live with Kelley," I see a warm hearted, gentle soul. However, this book casts a light on Cooper that goes unnoticed. This isn't just a book about his successes and journey of becoming one of America's most respected journalists. This is a book about someone who is still grieving the traumatic events of their childhood. This is a book about someone who still When I see Anderson Cooper reporting for CNN, I see a strong, articulate, through journalist. When I see him next to Kelley Ripa on ABC's "Live with Kelley," I see a warm hearted, gentle soul. However, this book casts a light on Cooper that goes unnoticed. This isn't just a book about his successes and journey of becoming one of America's most respected journalists. This is a book about someone who is still grieving the traumatic events of their childhood. This is a book about someone who still hasn't found the answers they are looking for. I caution those who want to read this book; it can very much diminish your spirits. Even though Cooper has lived a life of privilege, he certainly doesn't feel like that has helped him as a person. Cooper describes vivid accounts of his coverage of wars and natural disasters and how these events help him find solitude and self sufficiency. However, this is also a book that highlights the journalism industry and shines a light that the public rarely sees. Cooper describes the struggle of getting a job, even with a Yale education and the struggles and dangers journalists around the world face. Without a doubt I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in journalism and admires Cooper's work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Wow. There's a lot more to Anderson Cooper than any of us think. We see the giggly guy tolerating Kathy Griffin at New Year's Eve and the calm, measured individual providing us the news on CNN. This book provides a deeper look at the contained and approachable individual behind the prematurely white hair. This is an account of how Cooper came to be an overseas correspondent and what darker emotional forces are at play in his life and what drives him to go where he goes and chronicle what he sees Wow. There's a lot more to Anderson Cooper than any of us think. We see the giggly guy tolerating Kathy Griffin at New Year's Eve and the calm, measured individual providing us the news on CNN. This book provides a deeper look at the contained and approachable individual behind the prematurely white hair. This is an account of how Cooper came to be an overseas correspondent and what darker emotional forces are at play in his life and what drives him to go where he goes and chronicle what he sees there. His voice is so tangible in his sentence structure and style that you can almost hear him narrating. He writes in simple succinct sentences. I hope the completion of this work has somehow served to release Anderson from some of his emotional demons.

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