- Narrator: Anderson Cooper – Very Good
- Genre: Memoirs
- Writing: Excellent
- Story: Excellent
- Time: 5 hours 6 minutes
I picked this up on a whim and ended up totally enjoying it. Cooper is currently the host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. His specialty is jumping into the thick of the worst disasters and events going on anywhere in the world and reporting on them. His claim to fame is his reporting on Katrina, but he details his experiences in Somalia, Indonesia and Sarajevo. This book weaves the story of Cooper’s tragic personal life with his reporting of global disasters. My first impression was that he was pompous and self-involved. After I adjusted to the style, though, I thought his juxtaposition of the events in his life and the ones he was reporting on was wonderfully done and truly meaningful.
Cooper was born with a silver ladle in his mouth. He is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt and grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, hob-nobbing with the rich and famous. Growing up he faced more tragedy than most – his father died when he was a child and his brother committed suicide when he was in college. After graduating from Yale and deciding that news reporting was his thing, he couldn’t get anyone to give him a job. With a borrowed video camera in hand, he got on a plane and started filming news stories in some of the worst places on the planet – hoping to sell them to any news outlet. Ultimately, his quality reporting caught on and he was picked up by the biggest news stations in the US.
In Dispatches From The Edge, Cooper relates the emotions he feels about what he witnesses with how he has felt about his personal life experiences. I think he does a wonderful job at it. His writing makes the tragedies he witnesses more real to the reader – the relation to the story of his life somehow makes each of his stories easier to understand and internalise.
The book also takes a no-holds-barred approach to the incredible sequence of screw-ups that resulted in so many injuries and deaths during the Katrina hurricane – many of which could have been avoided. A refreshingly honest and open view.
Highly recommended. A short and fast read (or listen).