"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.
"As a woman from a formal university background, Emcke was not prepared for situations that defy language, that cannot easily be shared with other people who have not been there...So, intelligently, she formed the habit of writing extended narrative letters to her circle at home which would at least communicate her own sensations...These letters, first written as a way of communicating and later, as she says, becoming a means to personal catharsis, form the basis for Echoes of Violence...A reader's memory will take away from her book a gallery of magnificent survivors, men and especially women who tell their tales without self-pity and who refuse to surrender to the miseries piled upon them."--Neal Ascherson, New York Review of Books
"Through her personal letters to friends, Der Spiegel war correspondent Emcke offers a perspective on war beyond journalistic dispatches. . . . Emcke describes the moral and political delicacy of reporting on a war from one side or the other and the overwhelming questions of humanity and inhumanity found in the midst of war."--Vanessa Bush, Booklist
"This collection of . . . letters combines gripping narrative with philosophic reflection on the meaning of war and the limitations of journalism to communicate the abyss of violence."--Kathy English, The Globe and Mail
"Emcke . . . recounts personal stories to illuminate the larger significance not only of each particular story/assignment/war but also of the nature of injustices. . .. She handles battle with grace, both in the midst of conflict and, later, on the page. . . . [H]er fine reportage shines through in it, particularly in moments on the northern front, which it's likely history will barely remember."--Eliza Griswold, Bookforum
Table of Contents:
Kosovo 1 (July 1999) 1
Lebanon (October 2000) 357
Nicaragua (April 2001) 71
Kosovo 2 (October 2000) 97
Romania (August 2001) 125
New York/Pakistan/Afghanistan (Sept. 2001-Feb. 2002) 155
Colombia (October 2002) 203
Northern Iraq/Iraq (April 2002 and March-April 2003) 245
Editorial Note 317