Tom Rosenstiel founded and for 16 years directed the Project for Excellence in Journalism. He was also a reporter and editor, and he recently published his third novel, Oppo.
If you are looking for reading suggestions to fill up the lock down hours, I’d suggest anything by Dave Eggars. He’s a great and inventive writer. He started out with a huge hit about 20 years ago with ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’. That was the actual title, in case you aren’t familiar with it, and it suits the book. It was a memoir, an autobiography basically, and he wrote it while he was still in his twenties, which is a bit unusual, mostly it’s at the end of people’s careers that they write memoirs, but if you read the book, you’ll see it was worth it.
He’s written novels and other works, but the one I’m reminded of is called ‘What is the What?’, it’s the true story of a guy called Valentino Achak Deng. Valentino comes from Sudan, and he eventually settled in the United States, but that was after some truly amazing and often horrifying ordeals in his childhood.
Most of the people in his village were murdered, he went on epic treks as an unaccompanied child across several countries in East Africa, from one refugee camp to another, and he was very lucky to survive hunger, war, disease and every other biblical misfortune; many of the people he encountered did not survive. He didn’t know it at the time, he was a child caught up in a civil war, but the author of much of his misfortune was a man called Omar al-Bashir. He was the president of Sudan, and started a civil war to get access to the oil under the lands where Valentino and his family lived.
That’s hugely simplified, Sudan suffered a decades-long and very complex conflict based on resources, ethnic and religious differences, and outside interference, but al-Bashir is undoubtedly someone who has the blood of thousands on his hands. He was overthrown a year ago following intense protests from his own population against poverty and bad government.