Cooper, Anderson. “Dispatches from the Edge”, Harper, 2006.
On the Front
Anderson Cooper is one of the most respected and watched journalists who works today. His careful and insightful coverage of two major tragedies—the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina caused him to become a celebrity in the world of media. In “Dispatches from the Edge”, his powerful written record, he tells us how he got to where he is and his struggle with his own personal tragedies—the death of his father when Anderson was ten and his brother’s suicide. He was born into wealth and societal status; his mother is a Vanderbilt. He had always wanted to be a reporter and he left home to pursue that career. He learned early to deal with major tragedy and how to show it to others. He is direct and he is unsentimental but his coverage of Katrina and his personal involvement is what made him a household name. None of us will ever forget how he broke down while covering the storm. He is a man of vast emotion who is not afraid to share it with the world. As his publisher says he is “the prototype for a twenty-first century newsman”. He no longer just covers a story; he is part of the story. He is distinctive and pleasant to watch, his voice is clearly recognizable, he is handsome. He is also a very talented writer who supplies with images and phrases that allow us to get a grasp of the larger picture. He is very good looking and very serious about his work. Cooper writes straightforward prose which is filled with passion.
There is obviously more to Anderson Cooper than we see. Harboring his memories of his own suffering, he shows us that he also has a life outside of his profession and it is this life that allows him to relate to the pain he reports about.
The only pretty thing about this book is the writing. It is otherwise a very raw picture as it deals with national and international tragedies. Cooper describes them with brutal honest, sometimes even sounding vulgar but vulgarity s what is needed when looking at the American government’s response to Katrina (I was there and believe me I know).
Anderson Cooper manages to paint portraits of the world tragedies he has covered. He allows us to feel his sufferings and makes us realizes just how lucky we are to have him and all else that we have when so many people in the rest of the world are without so much.
When I was living n a shelter after Katrina forced me to leave New Orleans, it was Anderson Cooper that told me what was happening in my native town. I was shocked and outraged but I knew what he said was true. It hurt me to hear him tell of the corruption of the city officials and the national government and I wept with him when he showed the world the devastation wrought by the storm. His honesty helped me to come to terms with what I was feeling and it also made me realize that I would not go home again. My feelings of emotion and loss seem to come out of Cooper’s mouth. He showed us what we ordinarily do not see on the news and Cooper is an amazing man.