Friday, May 27, 2011

Edward Humes

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes is the author of Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution, and ten other nonfiction books.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I loved reading Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the story of a poor, dying black woman whose cancerous cells, taken without payment or consent, live on to power medical advances, scientific studies, and the fortunes of endless entrepreneurs and mega-corporations. Skloot’s book does what great narrative nonfiction must do: Surprise us, outrage us, move us and make us care about something we never even knew existed. (Did you know, for instance, that you have so little legal right to your own tissues that someone else can take them, patent them and sell them without your permission? I didn’t.) I was just absolutely engrossed.

Another recent read is a re-read: Three Cups of Tea, and not a happy one. As I imagine a good number of disillusioned readers have done, I found myself re-reading portions, looking to see if I had missed some obvious clue that the tale didn’t add up. But I can’t tell anymore, now that I’m aware of the allegations about the veracity of Greg Mortenson’s story and charitable organization. Parts of it, particularly his kidnap, now seem absurd, but is that just because the doubts have been sewn? The problem is, I believe the underlying message of the book is a good one, even if the messenger is imperfect. I hate the damage this has done to the already tattered reputation of journalism and nonfiction, and the good will it soured that should have been reserved for the good, inspiring and true stories that are out there.
Visit Edward Humes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue