Book Review: “Dispatches from the Edge” by Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper, the author, gave the personal perspectives, which he normally cannot do as a journalist, on the tragedies he reported from the edges of the world. He seemed to be running toward where the actions or disasters are happening. From the Somalia genocide, to Burma, Vietnam, and Tsunami in Sri Lanka and back in New Orleans after Katrina hit. In a way, he thrives on reporting those dangerous events and tragedies because in a way he’s running away from his personal tragedies, the death of his father during a heart bypass surgery when he was 8 and the suicide of his brother, Carter, when he was 20. Running toward tragedies allows him to see the worst that could happen, taking some pain from his own tragedies. Writing this book is probably very therapeutic for him.

As the son of Gloria Vanderbilt and Wyatt Cooper, he inherit some of the “star” quality. The reporting of the tragic events were dove-tailed with his personal life stories, keeping the event very personal and yet real. It’s like reading the journal of the journalism exhibited during the reporting of the events, which are normally fairly dry to avoid projecting the reporter’s perspectives. The stories were interesting. The Katrina story was very little close to home. Anderson showed very little respect for politicians that botched up the rescue mission.

I don’t remember ever listening to his reporting at CNN but his speech style reminds me of the Y generation people, who speak with little energy/emotion or perhaps his New York accent. I hope he speaks better than the narration of the audio book.

I enjoyed this book because Anderson Cooper was brutally honest about his own feelings – at times confusing, conflicting, but mostly sincere and honest. And I really empathize his personal struggle on his own tragedies. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have lots of pictures, video and personal journal to remind him constantly his state of mind and state of the event at the time of occurrence.