By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Book plan in motion with Kristof's hiatus

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New York Times readers will miss editorial columnist Nicholas Kristof for several months as he and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, tackle their fourth book project. Read on if you want to help with that effort.

Raised on a farm outside Yamhill, Nick honed his early writing skills as editor of the Yamhill-Carlton High School newspaper and, while still in high school, as a reporter for the News-Register. His parents both were college professors, and his late father, Ladis, was a noted academician with a fascinating story that includes escape from Romania, survival in concentration camps and a life that combined teaching, research, writing, and running a 73-acre sheep and cherry farm.

In his Who’s Who listing, Ladis wrote: “War, want and concentration camps, exile from home and homeland, these have made me hate strife among men, but they have not made me lose faith in the future of mankind.”

One begins to see the forces that propelled Nick toward his own accomplishments. Those have included graduation with honors from Harvard and Oxford followed by experiences as a New York Times correspondent in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo. He was an associate managing editor of the Times before becoming a twice-weekly columnist with a penchant for world travel and penetrating political and social commentary.

Nick and his wife, a Times journalist, won the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the democracy movement in China, then co-authored “China Wakes, The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power,” and “Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia.”

From that geopolitical focus, the writing team moved to a renowned examination of the challenges confronting women around the globe, “Half the Sky: From Oppression to Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”

“Half the Sky” launched Nick onto a national stage of speaking tours, television talk shows and documentaries. It also produced a wave of introspection about the impact of immersing oneself in a cause, which grew into the couple’s most recent project.

“The theme,” Nick wrote in his last column, “is the benefits to ourselves when we engage in a cause larger than ourselves, and, given that, how we can engage in a way that actually works. In other words: the emerging science of how to make a difference.”

As for assisting on the project, Nick wrote: “We do need a title, so ideas most welcome.”

“Making Life Count” is taken as a title, but something more imaginative no doubt will emerge.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news or 503-687-1223.

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