Echoes of Violence: Letters from a War Reporter

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Princeton University Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 322 pages
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"Nobody I ever met on my assignments . . . asked me for direct, practical help. . . . But over and over again people have asked me: 'Will you write this down?' "--Echoes of Violence

Echoes of Violence is an award-winning collection of personal letters to friends from a foreign correspondent who is trying to understand what she witnessed during the iconic human disasters of our time--in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and New York City on September 11th, among many other places. Originally addressing only a small group of friends, Carolin Emcke started the first letter after returning from Kosovo, where she saw the aftermath of ethnic cleansing in 1999. She began writing to overcome her speechlessness about the horrors of war and her own sense of failure as a reporter. Eventually, writing a letter became a ritual Emcke performed following her return from each nightmare she experienced. First published in 2004 to great acclaim, Echoes of Violence in 2005 was named German political book of the year and was a finalist for the international Lettre-Ulysses award for the art of reportage.

Combining narrative with philosophic reflection, Emcke describes wars and human rights abuses around the world--the suffering of civilians caught between warring factions in Colombia, the heartbreaking plight of homeless orphans in Romania, and the near-slavery of garment workers in Nicaragua. Freed in the letters from journalistic conventions that would obscure her presence as a witness, Emcke probes the abyss of violence and explores the scars it leaves on landscapes external and internal.


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Kosovo 1 July 1999
Lebanon October 2000
Nicaragua April 2001
Kosovo 2 October 2000
Romania August 2001
New YorkPakistanAfghanistan Sept 2001Feb 2002
Colombia October 2002
Northern IraqIraq April 2002 and MarchApril 2003
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About the author (2007)

Carolin Emcke is a journalist, political theorist, and writer. She has a doctorate in philosophy and has been a visiting lecturer in political theory at Yale. As a staff writer for the foreign news desk of Der Spiegel, she has written about war crimes and human rights violations around the world. In 2006 she was awarded the Ernst Bloch Forderpreis, a German award given to scholars and philosophers of extraordinary promise. She lives in Berlin.

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