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The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhoodby Helene Cooper
Synopses & Reviews
Journalist Helene Cooper examines the violent past of her home country Liberia and the effects of its 1980 military coup in this deeply personal memoir and finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Helene Cooper is and#8220;Congo,and#8221; a descendant of two Liberian dynastiesand#8212;traced back to the first ship of freemen that set sail from New York in 1820 to found Monrovia. Helene grew up at Sugar Beach, a twenty-two-room mansion by the sea. Her childhood was filled with servants, flashy cars, a villa in Spain, and a farmhouse up-country. It was also an African childhood, filled with knock foot games and hot pepper soup, heartmen and neegee. When Helene was eight, the Coopers took in a foster childand#8212;a common custom among the Liberian elite. Eunice, a Bassa girl, suddenly became known as and#8220;Mrs. Cooperand#8217;s daughter.and#8221; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;For years the Cooper daughtersand#8212;Helene, her sister Marlene, and Euniceand#8212;blissfully enjoyed the trappings of wealth and advantage. But Liberia was like an unwatched pot of water left boiling on the stove. And on April 12, 1980, a group of soldiers staged a coup d'and#233;tat, assassinating President William Tolbert and executing his cabinet. The Coopers and the entire Congo class were now the hunted, being imprisoned, shot, tortured, and raped. After a brutal daylight attack by a ragtag crew of soldiers, Helene, Marlene, and their mother fled Sugar Beach, and then Liberia, for America. They left Eunice behind.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;A world away, Helene tried to assimilate as an American teenager. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she found her passion in journalism, eventually becoming a reporter for the andlt;iandgt;Wall Street Journalandlt;/iandgt; and the andlt;iandgt;New York Timesandlt;/iandgt;. She reported from every part of the globeand#8212;except Africaand#8212;as Liberia descended into war-torn, third-world hell.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;In 2003, a near-death experience in Iraq convinced Helene that Liberiaand#8212;and Euniceand#8212;could wait no longer. At once a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country, andlt;iandgt;The House at Sugar Beachandlt;/iandgt; tells of tragedy, forgiveness, and transcendence with unflinching honesty and a survivor's gentle humor. And at its heart, it is a story of Helene Cooperand#8217;s long voyage home.
In the tradition of "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight," a world-renowned journalist presents a haunting memoir of a war-torn Liberian childhood and her return to her native country, 20 years after her family's flight, to reunite with the foster sister they left behind.
A national bestseller in the tradition of A Long Way Gone, a haunting memoir by a world-renowned journalist of a war-torn childhood in Liberia and her return to her native country twenty years after her family’s flight, to reunite with the foster sister her family left behind.A National bestseller, now in paperback—an acclaimed memoir by a world-renowned journalist, in the tradition of A Long Way Gone, of a flight from war-torn Liberia and her return to reunite with a sister left behind during the 1980 coup.
• Extraordinary publicity: The House at Sugar Beach was excerpted in The New York Times Magazine and received a front-page glowing review in The New York Times Book Review. From O, The Oprah Magazine to the lead review in People to The New Yorker, the exposure of this book has been outstanding. The House at Sugar Beach is also a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick, a Starbucks Pick, and a Borders Original Voice Pick.
• Political history, personal odyssey: On April 14, 1980, thirteen-year-old Helene Cooper’s life changed forever. That was the morning of the coup d’etat that left the Liberian President dead, his cabinet executed (including Helene’s uncle), her father wounded, and her mother raped. It was also the day that the Cooper family decided to flee Liberia for America—and to leave behind eunice, the foster child they’d treated as a sister and a daughter for almost seven years. By the time she was thirty, Helene Cooper was a world-class foreign correspondent who had managed to avoid going back to Africa. And then, in 2003, she returned to Liberia and reunited with her long-lost sister. At once a haunting personal journey and a keen, firsthand account of a time and place in African history, this memoir is a moving journey of reconciliation of all kinds.
About the Author
andlt;bandgt;Heleneandnbsp;Cooperandlt;/bandgt; is the White House correspondent for the andlt;iandgt;New York Times, andlt;/iandgt;having previously served as the diplomatic correspondent and the assistant editorial page editor. Prior to moving to the andlt;iandgt;Times, andlt;/iandgt;Helene spent twelve years as a reporter and foreign correspondent at the andlt;iandgt;Wall Street Journalandlt;/iandgt;. She was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
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