I had this great idea for a movie the other day. A swaggering adventurer--a Texan, of course--spends years traveling the world participating in disaster-relief campaigns. He is so successful in aiding governments and private groups in organizing these projects that he earns the nickname "Master of Disaster" (hey, a possible screenplay title). His success, however, eventually gets the best of him, as he decides that he may be able to save the world from itself. He ventures into Chechnya, but even having seen so much misery and terror is unprepared for the barbarous war there. Fearful for his life but persevering, he makes his way through the battle-scarred land toward a rebel fortress. And that's the last that's seen of him.
Of course, I won't be working up a treatment for Miramax anytime soon. If I did, I could expect to hear from Scott Anderson's lawyers. Not to mention attorneys representing the family of Fred Cuny--the real-life "Master of Disaster."
Anderson has written a book, The Man Who Tried to Save the World, that tells the story of Cuny's life and the mystery of his 1995 disappearance. But this is no mere biography: It's the tale of an adventurer told by an adventurer. Cuny, a former Dallas resident, had been in the relief business for 25 years, providing aid to victims of natural disasters and wars alike and spending time in places that most of us would consider living hell. A war reporter, Anderson, in his quest to uncover Cuny's fate, followed his trail to Chechnya. There he interviewed sundry military figures, agents, rebels--some shady and downright scary people, I'm sure. He was looking for answers to some big questions. Who was Cuny working for? What was he up to when he disappeared? Who was behind his death? In his search for answers, though, Anderson just finds more questions.
Anderson will be at the Barnes & Noble in Plano on Tuesday to discuss and sign The Man Who Tried to Save the World. The newly released book is said to read as much like a spy thriller as like a journalistic examination of a man and the war that killed him. So you might want to pick up a copy for some good summer reading. Or you could just wait for the movie. Surely there'll be one.