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Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2016
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Description
The author of the acclaimed Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo now moves on to Rwanda for a gripping look at a country caught still in political and social unrest, years after the genocide that shocked the world.
 
Bad News is the story of Anjan Sundaram's time running a journalist's training program out of Kigali, the capital city of one of Africa's most densely populated countries, Rwanda. President Kagame’s regime, which seized power after the genocide that ravaged its population in 1994, is often held up as a beacon for progress and modernity in Central Africa and is the recipient of billions of dollars each year in aid from Western governments and international organizations. Lurking underneath this shining vision of a modern, orderly state, however, is the powerful climate of fear springing from the government's brutal treatment of any voice of dissent. "You can't look and write," a policeman ominously tells Sundaram, as he takes notes at a political rally. In Rwanda, the testimony of the individual—the evidence of one's own experience—is crushed by the pensée unique: the single way of thinking and speaking, proscribed by those in power.
 
A vivid portrait of a country at an extraordinary and dangerous place in its history, Bad News is a brilliant and urgent parable on freedom of expression, and what happens when that power is seized.
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Street Date:
01/12/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385539579
ASIN:
B00WCXFN3W
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APA Citation (style guide)

Anjan Sundaram. (2016). Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Anjan Sundaram. 2016. Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Anjan Sundaram, Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Anjan Sundaram. Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: ANJAN SUNDARAM is the author of Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship and Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo. An award-winning journalist, he has reported from central Africa for the New York Times and the Associated Press. His writing has also appeared in GrantaThe Guardian, Observer, Foreign PolicyPolitico, Telegraph and The Washington Post. His war correspondence from the Central African Republic won a Frontline Club Award in 2015, and his reporting on Pygmy tribes in Congo's rainforests won a Reuters prize in 2006. His work has also been shortlisted for the Prix Bayeux and the Kurt Schork award. Stringerwas a Royal African Society Book of the Year in 2014. Anjan graduated from Yale University.
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title
Bad News
fullDescription
The author of the acclaimed Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo now moves on to Rwanda for a gripping look at a country caught still in political and social unrest, years after the genocide that shocked the world.
 
Bad News is the story of Anjan Sundaram's time running a journalist's training program out of Kigali, the capital city of one of Africa's most densely populated countries, Rwanda. President Kagame’s regime, which seized power after the genocide that ravaged its population in 1994, is often held up as a beacon for progress and modernity in Central Africa and is the recipient of billions of dollars each year in aid from Western governments and international organizations. Lurking underneath this shining vision of a modern, orderly state, however, is the powerful climate of fear springing from the government's brutal treatment of any voice of dissent. "You can't look and write," a policeman ominously tells Sundaram, as he takes notes at a political rally. In Rwanda, the testimony of the individual—the evidence of one's own experience—is crushed by the pensée unique: the single way of thinking and speaking, proscribed by those in power.
 
A vivid portrait of a country at an extraordinary and dangerous place in its history, Bad News is a brilliant and urgent parable on freedom of expression, and what happens when that power is seized.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Aditi Sriram, Washington Post
      • content: "Writing of his experience running a journalists' training program in Kigali, Rwanda, Sundaram captures the quiet menace of his surroundings: The wide roads indicate progress but are in fact devoid of any life. The people scurry out of the perfectly sculpted streetlights' sodium-vapor glare, afraid of attracting attention. And the bombs are immediately hushed up by the government, too quickly for anyone to notice, let alone write about in a newspaper.... Sundaram's exposé is courageous and heartfelt."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kevin Canfield, San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: "Spotlight, the film about the Boston Globe's reporting on sexual predators in the Catholic Church, has recently reminded us about the importance of investigative journalism--but Sundaram's relatively unheralded new book is an equally important cultural document. Bad News is a searing illustration of the dangers associated with newsgathering in an authoritarian state, and a paean to those courageous enough to practice it in such dire circumstances."
      • premium: False
      • source: Noam Chomsky
      • content: "Few people have suffered the hideous fate of Rwandans in the modern era. It is shocking, painful beyond words, to see the darkness settling again in a dystopia that is crushing free expression and individual lives. This searing, evocative account, focusing on young journalists struggling to gain the rights they so richly deserve, provides insights about the human condition that reach far beyond the tragic story of Rwanda."
      • premium: False
      • source: African Arguments
      • content: "Once in a while, a book comes along with the potential to alter our understanding of a place and its history. Anjan Sundaram's Bad News: The Last Journalists in a Dictatorship, which exposes the repression endured in one of the world's poorest countries, is one such work. There has been plenty written about post-conflict society, but in the case of Rwanda, we rarely get such a cogent view of life inside an oppressive state bent on controlling the public narrative.... Make no mistake about it: there is a war going on against legitimate journalism the world over. Oppressive regimes and their PR firms are winning that war. But with Bad News, Sundaram boldly strikes back at the powers that be and his aim is true. Sundaram has pulled back a weighty veil and exposed layers of manipulation that are--for most of us--almost impossible to see."
      • premium: False
      • source: Financial Times
      • content: "Sundaram's insights are harrowing, his narrative fast paced and immediate."
      • premium: False
      • source: Sunday Times (UK)
      • content: "Powerful and shocking memoir... a damning indictment not only of the Rwandan regime, but also the western governments and agencies that have failed to question its practices."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jon Lee Anderson
      • content: "Anjan Sundaram is a keen observer and a fine writer. In Bad News, he has rendered a chilling chronicle of the creeping totalitarianism taking hold in Rwanda that is as disturbing as it is unforgettable."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Observer (UK)
      • content: "A superb expose of a dictatorship... an important book... a desolate work, taut prose describing the stifling atmosphere of a nation trapped in fear."
      • premium: False
      • source: Foreign Affairs
      • content: "An unsettling account of journalists under fire."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "This is an important book for students of political science, modern history, and journalism."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content: "A powerful account of a nation 20 years later, still trying to recover from shocking genocide."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: "Sundaram's talents show in his creation of an atmosphere of paranoia and dread.... A chilling account of reporters in danger that heightens awareness of the importance of a free press."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        December 21, 2015
        Journalist Sundaram (Stringer) takes an affecting, if draining, look at conditions in Rwanda from April 2009 to December 2013. Focusing on his experiences with a program that trained Rwandans as journalists, he describes his relationships with his students and his struggle, as President Kagame's government grew more repressive, to find new ones. The book opens with Sundaram investigating the sound of an explosion, only to be informed by a police officer that he imagined it. This moment of state-mandated disconnection between reality and perception is just the first of many the book explores, at times powerfully. The cumulative effect, however, is exhausting. Students come and go from Sundaram's class, but there are a few that he clearly admires and considers friends. Gibson, a student of particular talent, struggles after being placed under government surveillance. Moses, another such student, is a survivor of the genocide, and one of the most poignant moments occurs when Sundaram accompanies Moses to a genocide memorial. These relationships add a measure of warmth to a book that comes to feel endlessly bleak. Despite the wearying grimness, this is an important book for students of political science, modern history, and journalism.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 1, 2015
        A journalist's memoir of training reporters during a dangerous time in Rwanda. Sundaram (Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo, 2014), who previously received a Reuters journalism award for his reporting from Congo, "had come to Rwanda to teach journalists how to identify, research and write news stories." The program, funded by the United Kingdom and the European Union and approved by the Rwandan government, was mandated to report "mostly on government initiatives." Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, the country had been praised for its progress since the 1994 genocide, but Sundaram was learning from his students the perils of veering from the "official" good news. He heard stories of journalists who were harassed, beaten, or thrown into jail after criticizing the government or merely reporting existing problems such as poverty. The country's popular independent newspaper, Umuseso, was shut down. Another editor/reporter was hounded and on the run after he started a magazine with a story about malnutrition. With unfettered power came absurdities. The government ordered villages to tear off their thatched roofs because they were primitive. A local pastor was arrested after telling villagers to "stop destroying their huts until the government built them replacements." While people were getting sick from living outside, flowers became "obligatory in the workplace." In spots, the book reads like a thriller, but the writing, more descriptive than crisp, doesn't sustain the tautness. Sundaram's talents show in his creation of an atmosphere of paranoia and dread. In this setting, the author began to wonder whom he could trust. An appendix provides a listing of reporters who were fired from their jobs, forced to leave the country, beaten, jailed, or killed. In this climate, it became nearly impossible to find journalists for his program, which eventually shut down. A chilling account of reporters in danger that heightens awareness of the importance of a free press.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2015

        Journalist and author (Stringer) Sundaram spent months in Rwanda, educating local journalists who were being harassed, intimidated, expelled, coopted, tortured, or murdered by the forces of Rwandan dictator president Paul Kagame. With appendixes listing the governments (United States, British), multilateral institutions (European Union, United Nations, International Monetary Fund), and foundations (Gates, Clinton), Sundaram's memoir seeks to expose the rotten dictatorship beneath the surface of the apparently stable, "democratic" postgenocide government of Rwanda. Readers of Samantha Power's "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide, Philip Gourevitch's We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, and Romeo Dallaire's Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda will be interested, but not happy, to learn the bad news that 20 years after the genocide witnessed by the world, the world's governments are supporting the regime that claims to have ended the mass killings but represses both critical news and the bearers of that news. VERDICT This nonfiction version of George Orwell's 1984 is essential for anyone paying attention to African politics. [See Prepub Alert, 7/13/15.]--Joel Neuberg, Santa Rosa Junior Coll. Lib., CA

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        November 1, 2015
        Award-winning journalist Sundaram (Stringer, 2013) taught his trade in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Under President Kagame, Rwanda has struggled to overcome its history of genocidal horror and present an image of stability. But underneath is a troubling mixture of press repression and a government using genocide memorials to get aid from Western nations even as it continues to instill fear in the populace. Sundaram's students were both Hutus and Tutsi, from families that were on both sides of the genocide, killers and slaughtered. He watched students struggle to report events in a complicated developing nation, seeing one capitulate and join the legions of sycophants praising Kagame to curry favor. Among his students were those who faced beatings, torture, and imprisonment and were likely to see more of the same if they continued their efforts to expose government shortcomings or even reported on the most innocuous issues, such as improving health care or nutrition. A powerful account of a nation 20 years later, still trying to recover from shocking genocide.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription
The author of the acclaimed Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo now moves on to Rwanda for a gripping look at a country caught still in political and social unrest, years after the genocide that shocked the world.
 
Bad News is the story of Anjan Sundaram's time running a journalist's training program out of Kigali, the capital city of one of Africa's most densely populated countries, Rwanda. President Kagame’s regime, which seized power after the genocide that ravaged its population in 1994, is often held up as a beacon for progress and modernity in Central Africa and is the recipient of billions of dollars each year in aid from Western governments and international organizations. Lurking underneath this shining vision of a modern, orderly state, however, is the powerful climate of fear springing from the government's brutal treatment of any voice of dissent. "You can't look and write," a policeman ominously tells...
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