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Writer Philip Gourevitch: Unspeakable, Unthinkable, Unimaginable

Host Marcia Franklin talks with author and New Yorker magazine writer Philip Gourevitch about the stories he’s covered, including the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. The two discuss what lessons Gourevitch thinks can be learned from these events, and why he is often drawn to subjects that make others look away.

In The Ballad of Abu Ghraib, Gourevitch pieced together transcripts of interviews filmmaker Errol Morris conducted with soldiers who were accused of torturing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Those interviews were also part of a documentary, “Standard Operating Procedure.” Gourevitch talks with Franklin about why he thinks some of the soldiers engaged in abusive acts.

Gourevitch also authored We Wish to Inform You That Today We Will Be Killed With Our Families, an account of the 1994 mass killing of at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus by other Hutus. The book was the recipient of numerous awards.

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Originally Aired: 12/17/2009

The interview is part of Dialogue’s series, “Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference,” and was taped at the 2009 conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together some of the world’s most well-known and illuminating authors to discuss literature and life.

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