Helene Cooper grew up at Sugar Beach, a 22-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 child - a common custom among the Liberian elite. Eunice, a Bassa girl, suddenly became known as "Mrs. Cooper's daughter".For years, the Cooper daughters - Helene, her sister Marlene, and Eunice - 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'état, 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.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 Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She reported from every part of the globe - except Africa - as Liberia descended into war-torn, third-world hell. But in 2003 a near-death experience in Iraq convinced Helene that Liberia - and Eunice - could wait no longer.At once a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country, The House at Sugar Beach 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 Cooper's long voyage home.More
"Rendered with aching nostalgia and wonderful language [it] is a voyage of return, through which the author seeks to recover the past and to find that missing sister, even as the war deepens over the years to come." (Kirkus)
"Among Cooper's aims in becoming a journalist were to reveal the atrocities committed in her native country. With amazing forthrightness, she has done so, delivering an eloquent, if painful, history of the African migratory experience." (Ms. Magazine)
"Helene Cooper's memoir is a remarkable page-turner: gripping, perceptive, sometimes hilarious, and always moving." (Jeffrey D. Sachs)
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