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

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

by Daniel Pearl, Helene Cooper (Editor)

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Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl became the focus of international concern when he was kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Pakistan while investigating a story. News of his brutal murder in February 2002 was universally denounced, a tragic loss of a good man and a compassionate journalist who was at home anywhere in the world.

At Home in the World


Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl became the focus of international concern when he was kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Pakistan while investigating a story. News of his brutal murder in February 2002 was universally denounced, a tragic loss of a good man and a compassionate journalist who was at home anywhere in the world.

At Home in the World celebrates Pearl's life through 50 of his best stories. Edited by his longtime friend and colleague, Helene Cooper, At Home in the World gives testimony to Mr. Pearl's extraordinary skill as a writer and to his talent for friendship and collaboration. With datelines from the United States and abroad, the articles showcase a dogged reporter who never lost sight of the humanity behind the news. A foreword by his widow, Mariane Pearl, and a contribution by his father, Judea Pearl, celebrate his desire to change the world, his basic decency and fair-mindedness and his sense of fun and love of family.

Mr. Pearl's eye for quirky stories -- many of which appeared in the Journal's iconic "middle column" -- and his skill in tracking leads, uncovering wrongdoing and making friends of strangers of all backgrounds and cultures are apparent throughout this carefully assembled collection. The selections range from child beauty pageants in the South to the making of the world's largest Persian rug to the Taliban's exploitation of a gemstone market in order to fund terrorism. Anecdotes from friends and colleagues in the introduction to each section provide background, context and a glimpse of his life at the Journal.

At Home in the World keeps alive Daniel Pearl's spirit through his words and the workthat was so important to him.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
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) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Pearl was a reporter who loved the truth. His acceptance and tolerance of differences among people garnered him respect from his colleagues and a position as bureau chief of the South Asia division of the Wall Street Journal. Kidnapped and viciously murdered in February 2002 by Islamic extremists in Pakistan, Pearl gave his life for the values he held as a journalist and as a humanitarian. This book is a memorial to this courageous man. Edited by his friend and Wall Street Journal colleague Cooper, the book comprises 50 stories by Pearl that appeared during his 12-year reporting career. Organized thematically, the book reveals Pearl's ability to cover diverse topics, ranging from the serious (war-ravaged Kosovo) to the mundane (Iran's pop music stars). A foreword by Pearl's wife, Mariane, a French freelance journalist, celebrates a man dedicated to his profession and to making the world a better place. Proceeds from the book will go to the Daniel Pearl Foundation to aid his wife and child. For academic and larger public libraries. Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Free Press
Publication date:
Wall Street Journal Book Series
Product dimensions:
5.63(w) x 8.61(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

Part One: Introduction: Talking to Strangers

Danny had the ability to see the ordinary as extraordinary. He said he was interested in the shades of gray in the world, rather than the extremes of black and white.

-- Tamara Pearl, Danny's big sister

Better than anyone, the Pearl family understood how Danny used his natural affection for the unfamiliar in searching for that middle ground. At his son's memorial service on March 10, 2002, Judea Pearl explained:

Thirty-eight years ago, Ruth and I had the great fortune of observing a unique biological phenomenon. The child that we brought home had a peculiar syndrome: he had not one shred of malice in his bones.

This child developed into a young man who filled our lives with joy, humor, love and meaning. We feel fortunate to have been influenced by him so profoundly, and we are lucky to have beautiful memories to guide us in the future.

But where did Danny get this zero-malice affliction? I know it did not come from my side of the family; I am not sure of Ruth's side. But I am pretty sure that it was genetic in nature, because it showed itself when Danny was still in the crib.

When you pulled the pillow from under his head, Danny would not startle; his head would just relax into a new position, as if that is where he wanted to be all along.

If you tried to bully him, he would not cry nor bully back; he would just look you in the eyes till you realized for yourself how silly you looked.

When we told him he must sleep with braced shoes, to correct his toeing-in, he did not utter a single complaint. Night after night, for six whole months, hewould just bite his lips and ask to be put into those awkward and painful braces.

Naturally, we thought that he was somewhat slow: A two-and-a-half-year-old boy who does not hit back must be, we thought. Therefore, when the nursery school teacher described him as a "born leader" with a six-year-old level of intellect, we made a special trip to the nursery school to make sure that she was talking about our Danny.

His kindergarten teacher later explained Danny's secret. He is like a sponge, she said. Nothing escapes his eyes; he simply sees no reason to show it.

And that was also the secret of his subtle leadership. Kids sought his company not because he was outgoing -- he wasn't -- but because he was secure, unassuming and unintimidated. He was not intimidated by bullies, or by rules, or by teachers -- not even by his parents.

He was not intimidated even when one teacher stuck a swastika in his face and said, "You are wearing the Star of David, Danny? Look what I am wearing!" As Israelis, we were terribly upset. This was our first exposure to anti-Semitism, and we were sure Danny would be scarred for life. We even called experts from the Anti-Defamation League to assess the damage.

But Danny just narrated the incident in his matter-of-fact way, as if saying, "Upset? Why would I get upset if a teacher makes a fool of himself?"

One day Danny came home from school with a booklet full of new safety instructions. Among them we found one popular rule of the 1970s:

"Do not talk to strangers."

After some discussion, we decided that we would not press this rule too seriously with Danny.

Little did we know then that "talking to strangers" would become Danny's hobby, then his profession and, eventually, his mission and ideology.

And he sure learned to talk to strangers:

When he went on his first interview and forgot to put on a belt, he talked the taxi driver into loaning him his belt -- just for the interview, of course.

People who we believed to be the epitome of boredom, Danny found to be intriguing.

He talked to strangers in jazz bars, on soccer fields, in barbershops and in train stations.

He talked to peasants and rulers, rabbis and mullahs.

He talked to winners and losers, to special strangers and to ordinary strangers.

He talked to strangers more than he talked to his parents. Little did we know that "talking to strangers" would one day invite this tragedy. Weeks after learning of his abduction, our family and friends were still playing with fantasies of how Danny talks his captors into coming to their senses and ending their silly game.

Until this very day, images of Danny talking them into playing a game of backgammon or humming a little tune are much more vivid than anything I will ever view on CNN.

We now know that the last group of strangers Danny talked to were strangers of a different breed, from a different planet. These were strangers that knew no talking.

They have silenced Danny's voice, but not his spirit -- the legacy of Danny's lifelong "talking with strangers" will be forever in our heart.

For eleven years, Danny Pearl introduced readers of The Wall Street Journal to beggars and thieves, workers and rulers. Here are a few stories that show his capacity for turning strangers the world over into people we know.

-- H.C.

Copyright © 2002 by Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Foreword copyright © 2002 by Mariane Pearl Eulogy in Part One copyright © 2002 by Judea Pearl


It was in London that I first stepped into one of Danny's offices.

The office floor was divided into little cubicles. Danny wore a stylish suit topped with a splashy tie pulled from his trademark crazy collection. He introduced me to his cramped space, inviting me to lounge in a beach chair that sat beside him, a totally inappropriate piece of office furniture filling most of his cubicle. I sat in that beach chair and took a good hard look at the man of my life as he spun out a tale from another of his reporting adventures in the Middle East, quickly sweeping his fingers over the keyboard without looking at the keys, surrounded by mountains of papers and books. Touchstones from his travels surrounded him. He had spread a big black tapestry that said "Allahu Akbar" -- "God is great" -- in scrolling red Arabic letters. He had propped a larger-than-life-sized picture of Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini, brought back from one of his countless trips to Iran. He also had the most amazing collection of little monster figurines perched on a shelf.

I could tell he was a fast thinker, constantly synthesizing new ideas. He was a man who was going to illuminate my life. Sharing his existence would be like turning the pages of a comic book packed with lots of fun, unexpected turns of events and plenty of plane rides. Most important, I felt I had met the man who shared my approach toward the world and stood committed to change the world for the better. Lying in his beach chair, an exotic spot in London's gray, I felt great respect and trust in him.

As a journalist and sojourner of the world, Danny held no prejudices about the people we interviewed and met. He first and foremost considered the human being in front of him, regardless of religion, race or social status. Very suspicious of groups and organizations, he had a natural tendency to trust individuals. Once he started to work on an article, he would literally throw himself at it, working days and nights, tracking facts for weeks and experiencing pure delight when he found the littlest detail that would make the story livelier. He liked to walk on beaten paths and discover tales of the unexpected. He was a hunter of human contradictions, as well as of the small and immense absurdities of existence. In reporting from mosques and villages, deserts and world capitals, he was witness to the difficulties of communication between humans. He was like a tightrope walker, a funamble, happily linking worlds with his writings.

As journalists, Danny and I traveled so much that we began to live without acknowledging borders. We were truly citizens of the globe. We were beyond cosmopolitan. Danny was Jewish; I am Buddhist. Danny was born in Princeton, New Jersey; I was born in Paris, France. Danny's father was born in Israel, his mother in Baghdad, Iraq; my mother was born in Havana, Cuba, my father in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We last lived together in Bombay, India, and last traveled together in Pakistan.

Our commitment to journalism as our means of changing the world deepened every day. The world often seemed to be a mess, but it was our world and somehow our mess. It became clear to us that we enjoyed a privileged position. That enabled us to expose corruption, injustice and ignorance. It empowered us to question vested interests, fundamentalism and untruths. For us -- for Danny -- journalism epitomized the path for charting a better world future. Danny cherished truth more than anything. He called it his religion. He had undertaken a lifelong struggle against conventional wisdom. In all those respects, Danny was a hero -- an ordinary hero.

We were legitimate citizens of the 21st century.

I can only hope that more individuals will think independently, give voice to their thoughts and take responsible action so that this world starts belonging to its people. It is our task to educate, inform and provide keys to people so that they will not be held hostage to the ignorance bred in every corner of the world. It takes courage.

Danny's kidnappers tried to behead freedom. The absurdity of his death belied the life we lived together. We were journalists. We were free. We met people and told their tales to the world. Nobody could harm us. Why would they? We were open-minded and respectful. We were not corrupt. We were not running after power or fame. We were not political or militants. We needn't hide anything. We were ambitious. We believed ordinary people like us could change the world by changing the way people think about each other. We believed you only had to be a journalist armed with intellectual courage, curiosity, a writing talent, a solid sense of humor and a genuine willingness to fight your own limits.

The terrorists who killed Danny stood at the other extreme of what Danny represents. They could only wield their knife and cowardice against Danny's intellectual courage and bold spirit. Danny died holding only a pen. They stole his life but were unable to seize his soul. By killing Danny, terrorists took my life as well but could not lay claim to my spirit. Dead and alive we will never let them win.

I wish you a good journey through Danny's writings. It is my sincere hope that his spirit and values will radiate from all of you who he inspires. I hope that, like me, you will be able to laugh with Danny as he navigates you through the absurdités de l'existence. Mainly, I trust that Danny's flame will keep burning in you as it does in me, his wife.

-- Mariane Pearl Paris, France April 2002

Copyright © 2002 by Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Foreword copyright © 2002 by Mariane Pearl Eulogy in Part One copyright © 2002 by Judea Pearl

Meet the Author

Daniel Pearl was named South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, based in Bombay, India, in December 2000. He joined the Journal as a reporter in Atlanta in November 1990 and moved to Washington, D.C., in 1993 to cover transportation. In January 1996 he moved to London, and in February 1998 he began reporting from the Journal's Paris bureau. Mr. Pearl had been a reporter for the North Adams (Mass.) Transcript in 1986, the Springfield, Mass., Union News in 1987 and the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1988, where he won an American Planning Association Award for a five-part series on land use. A Princeton, N.J., native, Mr. Pearl graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in communications. He married Mariane, a French journalist, in 1999. A few months before his abduction on Jan. 23, 2002, the couple discovered she was pregnant. A few days before his abduction, they discovered the child would be a boy.

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