From Jeffrey Gettleman, a Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times journalist, comes a sweeping memoir about how he found his calling in one of the most violent and yet most beautiful places in the world
Jeffrey Gettleman is one of America’s top war correspondents. For the past fifteen years, he’s reported in every warzone from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. He has been a commentator on CNN, BBC, PBS, NPR and ABC and written for GQ and the New York Review of Books. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa Bureau Chief for The New York Times, fulfilling his dream, since he was a teenager, of living in Africa. This is the story of how he got there and of the difficult, winding path to becoming a great reporter and a better man.
At 19, Gettleman fell in love, twice. First, with Africa, where he went on a community service trip with a group of other college-aged guys. When he got there, he felt like he was living a lucid dream: sprinting down the streets of a pro-democracy protest in downtown Nairobi that he had stumbled into-it hadn’t been only terrifying, it had been exciting. He went deep into Soweto in apartheid South Africa, where he saw white soldiers prowling the street corners with radios on their back and crowds of black people staring at them. Mandela had just been released from prison and apartheid was crumbling in front of his eyes. In Africa, there was the windows-down sense of freedom slicing across the sunny hillsides of rural Tanzania, the kamikaze excitement of plunging into Lake Malawi. Back in his dorm room at Cornell, he knew he had to return to Africa, and stay.
But he was also in love with Courtenay, a fellow Cornell student, who was the brightest, fiercest, kindest woman he’d ever met. She was beautiful to listen to and beautiful to look at and in the way of first love, taught him so many things he didn’t know he didn’t know.
Courtenay became a lawyer in America, and all Gettleman wanted was to be with her. But he also hungered to be in Africa. He didn’t think he could have both--he would spend the next decade breaking up with Courtenay and getting back together with her; he spent the same ten years going to back and forth to Africa. Finally, after a great deal of growing up, he learned to be honest with himself about what he wanted. Since 2006, he and Courtenay have lived in Nairobi, where they are raising two sons.
A beautifully rendered coming of age, Gettleman’s story is one of professional rivalries, tortuous long-distance relationships, marital strife, forgiveness, and parenthood. In the tradition of Barbarian Days , Gettleman’s memoir poignantly explores what it means to find yourself in the most unexpected of places.