Peter Eichstaedt is a world affairs journalist, filmmaker and author, dedicated to revealing the stories behind human rights abuses. He has written four critically acclaimed books: Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World’s Deadliest Place, Pirate State: Inside Somalia’s Terrorism at Sea, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army and If You Poison Us: Uranium and Native Americans. His newest book, Above the Din of War: Afghans Speak About Their Lives, Their Country, and Their Future-and Why America Should Listen will be released early 2013.
He is the co-author of Bucharest Express, an award-winning film about the horrors of trafficking in women and illegal prescription drugs in Eastern Europe. Formerly senior editor for Uganda Radio Network and Africa editor for the Institute of War and Peace in Reporting in The Hague, Netherlands, Eichstaedt has traveled extensively in Africa to cover war crimes and trials. He lives in the Denver area.
What will happen when international forces finally vacate Afghanistan? The answer to that question is unknown, but if there is any hope for Afghanistan, veteran journalist Peter Eichstaedt asserts, it is with its people.
After spending 2004 in Afghanistan working for the nonprofit Institute for War and Peace Reporting and helping build Afghanistan’s first independent news agency, Eichstaedt returned to Kabul in 2010. As he worked with Afghan journalists to document their history and collective struggles, he realized that although Kabul itself appeared cleaned up, with freshly paved roads, the optimism of the newly liberated capital had faded under the rise of the Taliban insurgency. Eichstaedt subsequently crisscrossed the country to interview an astonishing array of Afghans. In Above the Din of War, he shares these conversations, including emotional and critical commentary and opinions from a former warlord, a Taliban judge, victims of self-immolation, poppy growers, courageous women parliamentarians, would-be suicide bombers, a besieged video store owner, frightened mullahs, and desperate archaeologists.
Providing a forum for the everyday people of Afghanistan to be heard, Eichstaedt reveals the truth behind the calculated rhetoric of war, politics, and diplomacy, and suggests a path forward toward a sustainable future for Afghanistan and southern Asia.
Eichstaedt’s most recent book, Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World’s Deadliest Place, focuses on what is behind the bloodshed of the eastern Congo, where five million people have died in the past dozen years. He travels into the killing fields themselves to gather stories from those who live in this nightmare. He talks with survivors of villages decimated by war and desperate miners slogging through muck while militias and renegade army units roam the jungles, killing and raping with impunity, taking the profits, and leaving villagers to grueling labor, brutality, and disease. Millions of Congolese have died, and the bloodletting continues at a frightening pace. Consuming the Congo not only reveals the story behind the headlines, but examines how we, as part of the problem, can become part of the solution.
First Kill Your Family, the winner of the 2010 Colorado Book Award, is the product of nearly two years of research that began in August 2005 and included travels throughout Uganda, South Sudan and the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the spring of 2008 — all of it on the trail of the Lord’s Resistance Army. This portrayal of a ruthless leader offers a historical account of the war in Uganda and the brutalities perpetuated by the LRA and Joseph Kony.
Pirate State explores the links between the pirates, global financiers, and extremists who control southern Somalia and whose influence extends across the Gulf of Aden into Yemen and connects to extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Somali pirates are desperate and dangerous men who will do just about anything for money, and Pirate State argues that turning a blind eye to piracy and the problems of Somalia is inviting a disaster of horrific proportions. In 2009, the United States was hit broadside by Somali pirates who attempted to capture the U.S. flag ship Maersk Alabama. Suddenly, the pirates were no longer a distant menace. They had thrust themselves onto the American stage. Are the Somali pirates a legion of desperate fisherman attacking cargo ships and ocean cruisers to reclaim their waters? Or is piracy connected to crime networks and the madness that grips Somalia? What threats do pirates pose to international security? To answer these questions, Peter Eichstaedt crisscrosses East Africa, meeting with pirates both in and out of prisons, talking with them about their lives, tactics, and motives. Ultimately, he comes face-to-face with a former fighter with Somalia’s brutal Islamic al-Shabaab militia. He discovers that piracy is a symptom of a much deeper problem: Somalia itself.
In If you Poison Us, Eichstaedt offers a well-documented overview of the uranium mining that took place on the Navajo Reservation in the Four Corners area of the Colorado Platuau after World War II and its deadly health and emotional legacy. Despite evidence of the danger this mining posed for the miners and millers, state and federal agencies neither warned the workers or imposed safety measures. Hundreds of Native Americans died from lung cancer and related diseases.