25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Not Really 360 Degrees But a Sharp and Swift Memoir of a Reporter on the Rise,
This review is from: Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival (Hardcover)
Deemed by CNN programming executive Jonathan Klein as the "anchorperson of the future", Anderson Cooper has experienced the type of meteoric rise that is bound to draw critical diatribes as well as hosannas. Based on personal journals he has kept, his newly published book will unlikely shift opinions drastically, but this relatively brief memoir does provide an intriguing, sometimes poignant portrait of a man who let his natural curiosity of the world fester into a career in television journalism. As the son of writer Wyatt Cooper and heiress/blue jean magnate Gloria Vanderbilt, he was a child of privilege. At the same time, he was driven to find his own identity in light of deep personal tragedies, which by far, provide the most absorbing passages in his book.
His father died during open heart surgery at the age of fifty, and a decade later in 1988, his brother Carter jumped off the balcony of their mother's apartment. It was this senseless suicide that pushed Cooper to become a reporter, first with the youth-oriented Channel One and then ABC, traveling with his own video camera to dangerous regions of the world like Myanmar, Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda. These passages are filled with vivid impressions of poverty, starvation and the personal impact of war. It becomes clear through Cooper's writing that he was seeking an escape from the personal pain he felt from his brother's premature death.
Ironically, the least interesting parts of the book have to do with his move to CNN. In spite of his sharp accounts about the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, especially expressive in his frustration with the minimal government support for the victims, he comes across a bit too pat and expeditious in his coverage of these events and the impact on him personally. Perhaps because so much has been covered by CNN, we take for granted that Cooper will provide more than a general hope for humanity. Regardless, the book provides a glimpse into a television personality who has used his own experiences with tragedy as a supremely empathetic means toward addressing the broader-based tragedies he covers. I look forward to his next set of memoirs.