Violence, Veils and Bloodlines

Reviews and Recorded Interviews

FEB. 8, 2011, Radio Interview, NH Public Radio
Louis J. Salome talks with Laura Knoy of The Exchange, 89.1 FM WEVO.

FEB. 8, 2011, Radio Interview, Louis J. Salome talks with Mark Johnson, WDEV Radio Vermont. Listen to the Interview.

July 9, 2010 Louis Salome interview

Click to listen (or download)

May 2011 Martin Nangle, photographer, Leiden, the Netherlands -- "Well, I reached the last chapter and I found the book thoroughly great. I know I was following some of my own travels but, that aside, the chapters on Somalia, Algeria and Central Asia, where I didn't go, were stunning. I gotta say that the fight in the Ukrainian cafe, the road trip in Bosnia and the cotton buds for your ears in Uzbekistan are memorable. Well done."

- [Louis J. Salome traveled with Martin Nangle, a photographer originally from Northern Ireland, 20 years ago in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, right after the first Persian Gulf War. He's in chapter two of Violence, Veils and Bloodlines.]

April 2011 Holy Cross Alumni Magazine - Exclusive Book Excerpt: "What is your blood?"

Veteran journalist-turned-author Louis J. Salome '62 suggested this excerpt from his book Violence, Veils and Bloodlines: Reporting from War Zones to Holy Cross Magazine readers. "This passage is essential because it goes to the heart of the book," Salome explains. "When Diamant asked, 'Mr. Lou, what's your blood?' I knew that a book lay in my lap."

From Chapter One: Faces, Faiths, Tongues and Blood

The sharpest tribal question that I received came from Diamant, a translator and guide whom I had hired in Skopje, Macedonia. Born in Macedonia, Diamant was in his early 20s. But he was an ethnic Albanian, and in his mind, body and soul he would always be an Albanian, not a Macedonian, although I thought he most certainly would never live in neighboring Albania, Europe's poorest country. Albania was so deprived it was the only country where I ever saw a pig on a leash, although many people elsewhere had no pigs.

My translator spoke the Slavic tongue of Macedonia, and he spoke Albanian, too. He said he was a Muslim, but not to his marrow, not the kind who would fit comfortably in Iran or Saudi Arabia. We were traveling from Macedonia to Albania on a reporting trip. It was August 19, 1995, and we were crossing the border where autos were required to drive through a depression in the road that was filled with dirty water and mud. The object was to cleanse the underside of vehicles, an impossible chore as I saw it, so mirrors at the end of long poles could detect any bomb. Before crossing the border, passengers were required to wash their boots in a pan filled with dirty water, as if one of the countries were cleaner or less tainted than the other, which seemed an absurdity of a high order.

Cleared to go, we pulled away from the local version of a car wash and entered Albania. My translator quickly turned inquisitor. "Mr. Lou," he said, "Where you from?" he knew that I was an American because we had discussed this before. Now, in his mind, he was searching for soul not surface. He wanted to learn what was beneath my skin because he believed that if he knew that, he would know where I stoof on tribal issues that were important to him and therefore what he should think of me.

My answers at first were the usual ones: America, New England, etc. Impatient, he cut me short.

"Mr. Lou," he said, "What's your blood?"

"I raised my eyebrows, smiled and mumbled "holy shit" under my breath. . . . Read the rest of the article.

TRIBAL DIVISIONS - Tuesday, January 4, 2011 -- The Wire: Journalist Louis J. Salome found himself in a desperate situation while reporting from Iraq in March of 1991. Working for Atlanta-based Cox Newspapers, Salome was covering a failed Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein in the wake of the first Persian Gulf War. He had entered the country across the Tigris River from Syria just days earlier with a Kurdish guide, but was soon forced to flee, dodging bullets and trying to escape into Turkey across the Khabur River. The fact that Salome couldn't swim, and that armed Turkish soldiers on the far bank were determined to keep him out, made his escape especially problematic . . . Link to article

Dec. 29, 2010 - Fosters Daily Democrat: Portsmouth journalist's Middle East memoir to be discussed at Dover Library January 10, 2011, 7 p.m. -- Portsmouth resident and former 35-year foreign correspondent Lou Salome's memoir, "Violence, Veils and Bloodlines: Reporting from War Zones" (McFarland & Co., 2010), is a sweeping tour of the world's most contentious corners, reported from such war-torn locations as Belfast, Kabul, Bosnia and Somalia.

Salome's book is also interspersed with amusing and wrenching anecdotes and is a must read for anyone who is truly interested in understanding the world we live in today.

Mr. Salome will speak about his experiences and his travels on Monday, Jan. 10, 2011 at 7pm at the Dover Public Library. Everyone is invited to this timely and topical booktalk. [Link to article]

Dec. 22, 2010 - Worcester, MA, by Pamela H Sacks: Millville native recounts years as foreign correspondent -- Louis J. Salome shrugged and said no when asked if he ever felt afraid while working as a foreign correspondent in the world's most volatile spots . . . Read the article

"Violence, Veils and Bloodlines is a sweeping tour of the world’s most contentious corners with a delightful and insightful guide, one of the best of a dwindling breed of adventurous foreign correspondents.

"Salome is relentlessly clear-eyed as we go with him on his journeys. We flee with him on a makeshift raft from Iraqi Kurdistan with Saddam Hussein’s forces close behind. We chase Iraqi scud strikes in Tel Aviv, a city nearly emptied by fear of poison gas. We witness a ritual slaughter and dip our hands in sheep’s blood with what’s left of the Biblical Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim.

"We run under Syrian artillery guns in a darkened catamaran to slip into a Lebanese harbor at war. We inch through treacherous tunnels in Afghanistan’s fabled Hindu Kush Mountains. We watch women and children approach death in Somalia. We race past checkposts in Uzbekistan with a haughty poseur general recruiting Jews to leave for Israel. We are silenced with the crowd in Dublin by a lone crooner’s rendition of Danny Boy. We are pick-pocketed in Tashkent. And we hold chairs to our rears as we chase a Ukrainian waiter around his restaurant to get a meal.

"This diary of travels in so many lands of misery is leavened by Salome’s unquenchable willingness to amuse and be amused by absurdities he confronts. And it is framed by his keen insight into the tribal motivations that are the tinder for the flames of violence. We come away saddened at what tribes do to each other, yet heartened by the humanity that Salome always manages to find.

"It is a wonderful book, a rare opportunity to be a companion to a road-worn, wise, but never weary observer of the world’s woes."

--Doug Struck, former correspondent for The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, associate chair and Journalist-in-Residence, Emerson College, Boston.

Nov. 23, 2010 Portsmouth Herald Review, by Lynn Harnett: Portsmouth resident Salome has covered a lot of wars in his 35 years as a journalist and his new book explores his diverse experience under the common theme of tribalism: "all the principal traits that people apply to identify themselves and separate themselves from others."

Salome discusses the Middle East and its shifting alliances, as well as Ireland, the Balkans, Somalia and Central Asia, all within the context of deeply rooted tribalism. Loyalties may be forged with outsiders, but only as they benefit the tribe, which begins with family and widens to include religion, ethnicity, nation.

"Tribes usually resist shedding their views of history," Salome says in his understated way, using ancient grudges to fuel new wars, with the aid of self-interested outsiders.

His knowledge of history goes deep and his explanations are clear and concise (though the intricacies will still make your head spin). But it's his personal experiences that draw the reader, allowing us to attach real people to what often seem hopeless quagmires. Salome invites the reader to follow the evolution of his own thinking as he dodges bullets, shares meals, parries bureaucracies and talks to everyone, from rubble dwelling survivors in Lebanon to the beaten, but unbowed Bernadette Devlin in Northern Ireland.

With a mix of wrenching and amusing anecdotes, concise history and astute observation, Salome shows how human tribalism guides our history. This is a book for anyone interested in understanding our troubled times, and finding the humanity in war-torn places.

"As much as we claim to despise and fear the violence of war, its constant presence throughout history suggests that humanity is somehow suited to it. Louis Salome spent decades on various battlelines of the Middle Eastern conflicts and what he learned puts concepts of endless war and jihad into perspective.

"We are tribal creatures, with ancestral ties and grudges that are embedded in our views of the world and of ourselves. Salome’s book is a potent distillation of the hard truths earned as an eye-witness to history. He applies keen journalistic discipline and poetic introspection to the task of answering the question that still burns like a sabotaged Kuwaiti oil well here in the 21st century: What is your tribe?"

--Recommended by Rick Broussard, editor, New Hampshire Magazine

"I was hesitant to read Violence, Veils and Bloodlines by Louis Salome because I was expecting it to be tedious and boring. It is anything but. The events and situations described by the author while he was a foreign correspondent are compelling, heart-wrenching, frightening, and even, at times, humorous. His recounting of many hair-raising experiences is well written with the compassion and objectivity of a seasoned reporter. Mr. Salome writes about being in hot spots such as Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, and the former Soviet Union with great clarity and purpose. The maps included in the book were invaluable in helping me clear up the muddled picture I had of the Middle East and Eastern Europe as well. Take the time to read this book. It is well worth it!"

--Jane Ewell, Portsmouth, NH Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars, July 8, 2010
By jane sander "jes" (Rye NH, US):
"Violence, Veils and Bloodlines should be required reading for all journalist students, history majors and politicians. This memoir is insightful and educational for those of us that haven't strayed far from our own tribes. Many of the author's stories either had me laughing out loud or sitting at the edge of my seat."

5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable and Universally Significant, June 9, 2010
By Rosemary E. Jones, Fort Lauderdale, FL:
"Bloody wars through history can basically be traced to conflicting bloodlines, according to Louis J. Salome, author of Violence, Veils and Bloodlines. This fascinating report from war zones is based on his experiences as a foreign correspondent for Cox, and ranges from wars in Ireland to Israel and other nations in upheaval, including Afghanistan Algeria, Bosnia, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and areas of Central Asia.

"Everywhere Salome traveled, people wanted to know: "What is your blood?" This, he realized, meant not just his name and nationality, but his tribe, tongue, faith, family and culture. For that's what people were fighting to preserve.

"In his case, his bloodline can be traced to a village in Syria and Christian grandparents who emigrated to Rhode Island in 1906. Which makes him a Syrian American New Englander, who married an Irish American. Since the Middle East is patriarchal, however, and ignores the female contribution to the mix--and women believe in love, not war--it is male testosterone-driven lust for power, territory and combat that have led to the horrific conflicts described in this book.

"Salome's keen intelligence allows him to sort out and simplify the political complexities involved in these tribal scenarios, and his empathy helps him paint vivid miniatures of scores of people he encountered, often in areas of devastation. Both of which make his book both memorable and universally significant. And he even manages to inject some wry humor into this very serious subject."

5.0 out of 5 stars Where the news was, May 17, 2010
By Thomas E. Blackburn (West Palm Beach FL):
"Lou Salome preferred to go where the news was happening rather than wait for the official government spokesliar's handout. The highest public officials he describes in the book are border guards, usually giving him a hard time. The one diplomat mentioned is mentioned for an annoying pattern of evasion and is offered as a contrast to the way real people talk. Salome's methods involved meeting real people (and hair-raising drives over iffy roads.) In Belfast or Mosul or Tuzla, real people told him the same basic story. Whether their divisions were nominally religious or ethnic or political, one tribe had the thumb, and other tribes were under it. Everywhere there were people who, clothing and food aside, were not all that different from people everywhere else. This book is not about the people who make news but about the people news happens to."

5.0 out of 5 stars A smart book for smart readers, May 15, 2010
By Douglas Kalajian (Boynton Beach, FL):
"In an age of citizen bloggers and instant analysis, Salome shares lessons that could only be learned through years of exhausting footwork and thousands of face-to-face conversations. His observations about tribal loyalties and rivalries are essential to understanding the challenges faced by America and The West in today's world."

5.0 out of 5 stars You are in this book, May 4, 2010
By Betsy Willeford (Miami, FL)
"Originally titled "What's Your Blood?" it isn't about vampires, it's about tribes, heritage, religion, race, language, gender, soul and history. If that's too abstract a mouthful to swallow, think of the book as a journalist's travels from Belfast to Kabul, with anecdotes about how a driver's epaulets can matter more than the car's vintage fanbelt, how to chase a salad across a not entirely post-USSR restaurant in L'vov, why not to leave your passport at the airport in Djibouti, and how serendipity brought the author to the premiere of a pre-Taliban movie. An exploration of nationalism, selfhood, global conflict, the book is a clear insight into why people, families and nation-states behave as we do.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great journalism, March 23, 2010
By ellis berger "Once a writer, always a reader" (miami, florida USA):
"Louis Salome has written a tremendously compelling account of his experiences as a foreign correspondent following the demise at the end of 1988 of his former newspaper, the hisotric Miami News, where he labored for nearly 20 years,first as an extremely agressive reporter and then as the equally hard-nosed head of the paper's editorial page. His firt book is must reading for anyone who values -- and long's for -- solid "street" reporting.
Ellis Berger - (a former colleage of Mr. Salome's at the News)

5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and Wits, November 24, 2010
By -- zvilling "jihlava"
"These are the adventures of a guy in the world's most dangerous war zones who managed to come back alive by using his everyman appearance and his wits to blend in and overcome distrust. A great read, sweeping in scope, told with sensitivity and humor."