'Far And Away: Reporting From The Brink Of Change'

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Acclaimed writer, psychologist, traveler Andrew Solomon the importance of getting out- way out- into the world.

Andrew Solomon in Zambia in 1997. Photo: Luca Trovato.
Andrew Solomon in Zambia in 1997. (Photo: Luca Trovato. Courtesy Andrew Solomon. )


Andrew Solomon, writer and professor of clinincal psychology at Columbia University. His latest book is Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change. (@Andrew_Solomon)

From Tom's Reading List

How Traveling to 83 Countries Made Me Who I Am — "As a little kid in the late 1960s, I was afraid of the world. Even if I didn’t get caught in the draft that was sending American teenagers to Vietnam, there was always the possibility of a Soviet nuclear attack. I made constant escape plans and imagined a life going from port to port. I thought I might be kidnapped; little wonder I developed an anxiety disorder in early adulthood." (Conde Nast)

Naked, Covered in Ram's Blood, Drinking a Coke, and Feeling Pretty Good — It was unbelievably hot, and it was completely stifling. And there was the sound of these stamping feet as everyone danced around us, and then these drums, which were getting louder and louder and more and more ecstatic. And I was just about at the point at which I thought I was going to faint or pass out. At that key moment suddenly all of the cloths were pulled off. I was yanked to my feet. The loincloth that was all I was wearing was pulled from me. The poor old ram's throat was slit, as were the throats of the two cockerels. And I was covered in the blood of the freshly slaughtered ram and cockerels. So there I was, naked, totally covered in blood, and they said, "Okay, that's the end of this part of it. The next piece comes now." (Esquire)

Around the World With Andrew Solomon — Solomon’s skill as a critic is one reason Far and Away succeeds; another reason may be his skill at deception. Solomon is a reporter who makes great reporting appear simple: He meets people, he is introduced to their friends and colleagues, their detractors, and tells what they have said. Each source poses questions addressed by the next, and the next, which gives the reader a feeling of being along for the trip. Like other great journalists he is able to make esoteric or boring subjects feel urgent and fascinating. But in real life things don’t happen in comprehensible sequences, ideas don’t arrange themselves, and it is easy to confuse what is profound with what is insipid. Most reporters recognize, when it is time to write, that creating a quality of straightforwardness is serious labor; in Solomon’s writing, that labor is hidden. (Pacific Standard)

Read An Excerpt of 'Far and Away' by Andrew Solomon

This program aired on April 21, 2016.


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