Never the Hope Itself by Gerry Hadden
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins
Before the call came, Gerry Hadden had every intention of becoming a Buddhist monk, but then his phone rang, and he was offered the position of NPR’s Latin American correspondent, a position he simply could not turn down. Never the Hope Itself is the story of Hadden’s time reporting on Latin America: from Haiti’s election, to drug trafficking in Colombia, to illegal immigration.
In Never the Hope Itself, Hadden mixes both personal and professional memoir. Unfortunately the proportion of life and work seems somewhat off. Hadden’s life in his home in Mexico is not as well developed as it might have been, causing those sections to feel oddly unfinished and lacking. This ends up not being a huge detriment to the memoir, however, because the really fascinating part of Hadden’s story is what he saw as an NPR correspondent in Haiti and Latin America.
Hadden excels at bringing to life everything he saw during his employment, including the perils of emigrating from Central America through Mexico to the United States. What American readers will likely find most shocking, however, is the reaction Hadden observed to 9/11. Certainly Hadden seems to have found it shocking:
For the next several days the Mexican newspapers were filled with op-eds and commentaries on how justice, albeit tragic justice, had been served. On how naive the Americans were for not seeing it coming. On how sad it was that people had died, but what did the Big Bully Up North expect after pushing the entire planet around since time immemorial? -p. 136
“The United States has been screwing over Latin America for centuries,” Guadalupe told me…. “The American government was behind it,” said Walter, Guadalupe’s husband, “and the American government responds to Wall Street. It’s all interconnected…. Many more Argentines died during our seven years of U.S.-supported military juntas than Americans on September 11. There is a lot of anger still. A lot of unhealed wounds.” -p. 137-138
These statements will be seen by many as very provocative, but they are particularly interesting in the context of everything Hadden saw, and it is worth reading Never the Hope Itself to at least begin understand where they were coming from.
All this being said, the section on 9/11 is a relatively minor one in the context of the book and certainly isn’t the main thrust of Never the Hope Itself. Hadden’s time in Latin America is fascinating and instructive and is a great starting point for those interested in learning about the recent history of the region.
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