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Friday, December 14, 2007

Power To The People

Samantha Power, foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, dined with us for lunch today. (She spoke at the University of South Carolina School of Law last night.) I must admit; I was in full admiration mode. Power is, among many other amazing things, a Pulitzer Prize winning author for her book A Problem From Hell: America In The Age of Genocide. In the opening of the book, she wrote "We have all been bystanders to genocide...The crucial question is why." I have been stuck on that thought throughout the day. I know, not cheery, but certainly worth pondering.

A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law, she came to the U.S. from Ireland at age nine. From 1993 to 1996 she covered the wars in the former Yugoslavia as a reporter for the U.S. News and World Report, the Boston Globe, and The Economist. She remains a working journalist, reporting from around the world, including Burundi, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, and contributing to the Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.She also wrote a New Yorker article on the horrors in Darfur and Sudan which won the 2005 National Magazine Award for best reporting. She has seen some of the modern world's greatest horrors and brought it to the world through word. Her most recent work, a political biography of UN's Sergio Vieira de Mello, is due out in February.

No matter who you support politically, it's good to know that people like Samantha Power are out there: being the scribes, the witnesses and giving us the perspectives we need to be better citizens and people of a world that grows smaller every single day.

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