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

( 119 )

Overview

Few people have witnessed more scenes of chaos and conflict around the world than Anderson Cooper, whose groundbreaking coverage on CNN has changed the way we watch the news. In this gripping, candid, and remarkably powerful memoir, he offers an unstinting, up-close view of the most harrowing crises of our time, and the profound impact they have had on his life.

After growing up on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Cooper felt a magnetic pull toward the unknown, an attraction to the ...

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Overview

Few people have witnessed more scenes of chaos and conflict around the world than Anderson Cooper, whose groundbreaking coverage on CNN has changed the way we watch the news. In this gripping, candid, and remarkably powerful memoir, he offers an unstinting, up-close view of the most harrowing crises of our time, and the profound impact they have had on his life.

After growing up on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Cooper felt a magnetic pull toward the unknown, an attraction to the far corners of the earth. If he could keep moving, and keep exploring, he felt he could stay one step ahead of his past, including the fame surrounding his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, and the tragic early deaths of his father and older brother. As a reporter, the frenetic pace of filing dispatches from war-torn countries, and the danger that came with it, helped him avoid having to look too closely at the pain and loss that was right in front of him.

But recently, during the course of one extraordinary, tumultuous year, it became impossible for him to continue to separate his work from his life, his family's troubled history from the suffering people he met all over the world. From the tsunami in Sri Lanka to the war in Iraq to the starvation in Niger and ultimately to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Mississippi, Cooper gives us a firsthand glimpse of the devastation that takes place, both physically and emotionally, when the normal order of things is violently ruptured on such a massive scale. Cooper had been in his share of life-threatening situations before — ducking fire on the streets of war-torn Sarejevo, traveling on his own to famine-stricken Somalia, witnessing firsthand the genocide in Rwanda — but he had never seen human misery quite like this. Writing with vivid memories of his childhood and early career as a roving correspondent, Cooper reveals for the first time how deeply affected he has been by the wars, disasters, and tragedies he has witnessed, and why he continues to be drawn to some of the most perilous places on earth.

Striking, heartfelt, and utterly engrossing, Dispatches from the Edge is an unforgettable memoir that takes us behind the scenes of the cataclysmic events of our age and allows us to see them through the eyes of one of America's most trusted, fearless, and pioneering reporters.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Writing with the same emotional intensity that distinguishes his news broadcasts, CNN journalist Anderson Cooper describes his powerful personal reaction to the tragic events of 2005 -- a year that brought a tsunami to Asia, escalating violence to Iraq, famine to Africa, and two devastating hurricanes to the United States.
Newsweek
“Cooper weaves his experiences at CNN into a moving memoir.”
USA Today
“Powerful. . . . Packs a visceral punch. . . . Cooper opens a tantalizing window into his own soul.”
People
“Cooper is a storyteller with plenty of heart. . . . A smart, soulful pageturner.”
People Magazine
"Cooper is a storyteller with plenty of heart. . . . A smart, soulful pageturner."
People
“Cooper is a storyteller with plenty of heart. . . . A smart, soulful pageturner.”
USA Today
Powerful. . . . Packs a visceral punch. . . . Cooper opens a tantalizing window into his own soul.
People
Cooper is a storyteller with plenty of heart. . . . A smart, soulful pageturner.
Publishers Weekly
Most listeners will already be familiar with Anderson Cooper's dangerous field reporting on CNN. While this autobiography is heavy with those tales of wars and natural disasters, it is also rife with a surprising number of very personal incidents and revelations. His straightforward reading of his on-camera adventures is clear and engaging. But what keeps this reading from being great is his detachment. Perhaps because he has spent his professional life trying to be objective in his role as a journalist (although it could be argued that he became a media star when that facade cracked during his coverage of Hurricane Katrina) the more personal bits of the book are spoken with a level of distance that doesn't quite match up with the subject matter, especially when dealing with such delicate personal issues as his feelings concerning the suicide of his brother. Anderson is a sensational writer and reporter, but this mixture of public and private dispatches would have more power if he'd let his professional persona slip more. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, May 8). (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061136689
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/8/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 193,924
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Anderson Cooper joined CNN in 2001 and has anchored his own program, Anderson Cooper 360°, since 2003. He had previously served as a correspondent for ABC News and was a foreign correspondent for Channel One News. Cooper has won several awards for his work, including an Emmy. He graduated from Yale University in 1989 and also studied Vietnamese at the University of Hanoi. He writes regularly for Details magazine.

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Read an Excerpt

Dispatches from the Edge

A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival
By Anderson Cooper

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Anderson Cooper
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061132381

Chapter One

Tsunami

Washed Away

Small waves, one after the other, lap the shore. Two Sri Lankan villagers walk along the water's edge, searching for bodies washed up by the tide. They come every morning, leave without answers. Some days they find nothing. Today there's a torn shoe and a piece of broken fence.

I'm standing in a pile of rubble. Beneath me the ground seems to move, twisting and turning in on itself. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust. The ground isn't moving at all. It's maggots, thousands of them. Writhing, squirming, they feast on some unseen flesh. Nearby, a dog with low-hanging teats and a face smeared with blood scavenges for scraps. She steps carefully among scattered bricks, tourist snapshots, china plates, the flotsam and jetsam of life before the wave.

It took centuries for the pressure to build. Subtle shifts, grinding force. Long ago, a thousand miles east of Sri Lanka, more than fifteen miles below the surface of the Indian Ocean, two gigantic shelves of rock, tectonic plates, pressed against each other -- the rim of what scientists call the India Plate began to push underneath the Burma Plate. Something had to give. At nearlyone minute before 8:00 A.M., the morning after Christmas, 2004, the force of the compression explodes along a section of rock some one hundred miles off the west coast of Sumatra. A fault line more than seven hundred miles long violently rips open and a shelf of rock and sediment thrusts upward fifty feet, unleashing an explosion of energy so powerful it alters the rotation of the earth. It is one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history.

Shock waves pulse in all directions, displacing millions of tons of water, creating giant undersea waves. A tsunami. A ship on the surface of the sea would barely have noticed, detecting perhaps some slight swells no more than two feet high. But underneath, out of sight, churning walls of water extend from the ocean's bottom to the surface, pushing outward. The water moves fast, five hundred miles per hour -- the speed of a commercial jetliner.

It takes eight minutes after the earthquake begins for the sonic signals to reach the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, in Hawaii. The thin needle of a seismograph suddenly springs to life, rapidly scribbling side to side, signaling an alarm. It's already too late. Eight minutes later, at approximately 8:15 A.M., in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, the first of several massive walls of water explodes onto shore. In the next two hours, tsunami waves strike ten other countries. More than two hundred thousand people will die.

In New York, 2005 begins in a blizzard. A hurricane of confetti and light. At the stroke of midnight, I'm standing on a platform in the center of Times Square. I'm about sixty feet off the ground, and below, on the streets all around me, are people -- hundreds of thousands of revelers packed shoulder to shoulder behind barricades set up by police. The crowd is cheering. I see their mouths are open, their hands waving in the air, but I can't hear them. Both my ears are plugged with wireless headphones connecting me to a control room several blocks away. I hear only the hiss of the satellite transmission and a thin pulse of blood throbbing in my ears.

It's a strange way to start 2005. We've been covering the tsunami around the clock this week, and each day brings new details, new horrors. There's been talk of canceling the celebrations, but in the end it's decided that the show will go on.

I've always hated New Year's Eve. When I was ten, I lay on the floor of my room with my brother, watching on TV as the crowd in Times Square counted down the remaining seconds of 1977. My father was in the intensive care unit at New York Hospital. He'd had a series of heart attacks, and in a few days would undergo bypass surgery. My brother and I were terrified, but too scared to speak with each other about it. We watched, silent, numb, as the giant crystal ball made its slow descent. It all seemed so frightening: the screaming crowds, the frigid air, not knowing if our father would live through the new year.

I grew up in New York but never went to see the ball drop until I volunteered to cover it for CNN. For most New Yorkers, the idea of going anywhere near Times Square on New Year's Eve is inconceivable. It's like eating at Tavern On The Green; the food may be tasty, but it's best left to out-of-towners.

I've always thought that New Year's Eve is proof that human beings are essentially optimistic creatures. Despite hundreds of years of pathetic parties and hellish hangovers, we continue to cling to the notion that it's possible to have fun on that night. It's not. There's too much pressure, too many expectations, too few bathrooms.

The truth is, I began volunteering to work on New Year's Eve as a way to avoid having to do something social. This is my second time covering the Times Square festivities, and I've actually begun to enjoy it. There aren't many opportunities in this city to feel part of a community. We scuttle about the streets each day, individual atoms occasionally running into one another but rarely coalescing to form a whole. In Times Square, however, as the ball descends and the crowd cheers, New York becomes a very different place, a place of pure feeling.

When midnight arrives, the air explodes into a solid mass, a swirl of colored confetti that seems to hang suspended in space. For several minutes I am not expected to say anything. The pictures take over. The cameras pan the streets, wide shots and close-ups; people sing and shout. I take the headphones out of my ears and am surrounded by the waves of sound. The air seems to shake, and for . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper Copyright © 2006 by Anderson Cooper. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 119 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(73)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 119 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2008

    Well Done Cooper!!!

    I couldn't put this book down. There was many a sleepless night trying to read this book. Anderson Cooper is a fabulous anchor and reporter from CNN and CBS and this book is just another one to add to his many accomplishments. It's well written and you feel either like you sitting right there like he's telling you his stories or like you're experiencing them with him. It's also a nice open up to his more personal side without going too far. I feel like I know my favorite reporter better and this book makes me love him even more. Good job Anderson!!!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2008

    Refreshing and Realistic

    I read this book in about 3 days, I litterally could not put it down. While some might say the content is depressing and a bit of a 'downer' I find it refreshing that someone in the public eye can be so candid, and honsetly there were many passages that I related to 100% I think his story challenged the reader to step out of their comfort zones and acknowledge that the world is so much bigger than the little boxes we choose to stay in.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Would highly recommend.

    Was well written, very honest and showed great insight into death, suicide, and the difficulty dealing with the harsh world we live in today.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Very well written, I learned alot. I enjoy Anderson Cooper wheneverI have the chance to see him on TV.

    I have not written a book review in over 60 yrs.

    Reading this book made me realize that the "non fiction " world is wide open.

    That is my goal. Thank you Anderson Cooper.

    Carolyn McM

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    Couldn't put it down

    To be honest this genre isn't my usual cup of tea, but I am a fan of his show so I picked it up anyways. I'm so glad I did because once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It was interesting to see these natural disasters and war torn countries from his perspective, without the censorship of a video camera. The way he weaves stories of his personal life into his professional experiences makes for an emotionally gripping biography. We all deal with death differently, and I don't think it was depressing at all, just insightful.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2006

    Great Book

    Wonderful book .. sounds just like Anderson Cooper talking to you. Many inside stories with a lot of detail from the front line. Super - highly recommend this read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Strongly recommend

    Brilliantly written, impossible to put down, emotional and honest.... I strongly recommend this book. I remember watching Anderson on Channel One News and continue to admire his work on CNN. This book strengthened my respect for him and his work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2011

    Waste Of Time Ghost Written Book

    Anderson Cooper revealed little about Katrina, or his home life, you do not know by now unless you lived under a rock in 2005.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2007

    Fantastic and Brilliant!!

    I really enjoyed this book and could not put it down. Anderson Cooper is one of the world's best journalists and he proves it with this book. He talks about his travels and really draws the reader in. He talks about his family and childhood growing up with such open honesty you really see the things we take for granted in this world. It was one of my favorite books and I recommend it to everybody.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2006

    Not much there there

    Fairly short, 224 relatively small pages with blank pages between the chapters, this book does not amount to much. To disguise the fact that there is so little here, the short passages are presented out of chronological order, as if this were some sort of literature. The author's brother's suicide is not discussed once, but is touched on numerous times in short (a page or less) passages. I suppose we are meant to think that it is highly significant, but after a while I began to think 'So what?' Plus, his father died. Pretty much everybody's father dies sooner or later. Big deal. The author of course is a news personality who has been at the scenes of various conflicts and disasters, and so we get little anecdotes about those experiences, few of them interesting.

    1 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013

    Hey anderson!!!

    Can u pplleeaassee have justin bieber on your show? I loove this book as well!!! I loove justin bieber soo much to!!! From jen-massachusetts

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    Great read

    I think it's safe to say that Anderson Cooper can write as well as newscast. I found this book in the library and did not look up until I had finished it. The subject matter was interesting, even if the time bounced around a lot. However, even though I liked the writing, the tense changed a lot, which I was not such a fan of. While Anderson has discussed the deaths of his father and brother on his talk show, this book definitely gave a more quiet, personal side to his feelings. I did notice the lack of inclusion of 9/11. Anderson has frequently stated that 9/11 was the reason he went beck to being a war correspondant, so I wondered why it wasn't at least mentioned. But I understand why it was not a bigger part of the book. The stories in the memoir were of things he had witnessed, and I don't think Anderson covered much news about 9/11. Also, it is highly plausible that 9/11 did not have a large effect on Anderson. I lived in Brooklyn at the time, and although 9/11 was horrifying, I was not affected much. All in all, I enjoyed this memoir and would recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    I learned a great deal about anderson cooper from his book. Very emotional and poignant book

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2011

    Blind Bargain

    I bought this book recently after reading some of it from the Library. I was overjoyed to get it for such a low price of $4. Anyway what was not made to my attention through this website is that it was a bargain book. So don't be fooled by the "seemingly" low prices. I definitely was upset because I thought I was getting a good deal and ended up getting screwed...

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Could not put this book down

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Loved it!

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted January 19, 2011

    Anderson Cooper is the future face of legendary journalism.

    When reading this book you quickly come to terms with the fact that it will not be easy to put down. The way Cooper describes his ordeals both personally and while on the field makes the reader feel empathy not only for thr victims of these tragedies, but for him as well. Very, very brave memoir worthy of respect.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2010

    a lot of heart

    This book makes you travel with Anderson Cooper in his true-to-life adventures. Amidst his fame in the news and in his family life, his writing makes him human. Definitely a must read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Anderson Cooper Review

    This book was a fantastic read. I really enjoyed the heart and passion put in this book. Anderson Cooper really makes you feel like you were in his shoes in the foreign soil. Not only on the foreign soil but in his home life. He allows himself and his life to be relate-able. He pours all he has in this book. I have personally been inspired by this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    Incredibly enlightening. For any aspiring journalists or Anderson Cooper admirers.

    Anderson Cooper skillfully recounts his experiences as a journalist, while weaving his own personal history into a thought-provoking narrative. Upon hearing that AC wrote the book, I searched relentlessly for it. Reading it now, I am more than satisfied with my decision. Anderson Cooper has perhaps outclassed his magnificent reporting style with his talent with a pen. Dispatches From the Edge is a gripping book that will leave you on the edge, eager from the first to last page, fascinated with the numerous ordeals Cooper survived.

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