Branson, Louise

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BRANSON, Louise

PERSONAL:

Married Dusko Doder (a journalist and author); children: Thomas, Nicholas.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Vienna, VA. Office—c/o The Scotsman, Barclay House, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS, Scotland.

CAREER:

Journalist and author. Sunday Times, London, England, foreign correspondent in Moscow, USSR (now Russia), then Beijing, China; Scotsman (newspaper), Edinburgh, Scotland, Washington correspondent.

WRITINGS:

(With husband, Dusko Doder) Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin, Viking (New York, NY), 1990, new edition, Penguin (New York, NY), 1991.

(With husband, Dusko Doder) Milosevic: Portrait of a Tyrant, Free Press (New York, NY), 1999.

SIDELIGHTS:

For many years Louise Branson and her husband, Dusko Doder, have traveled the world as journalists for various media outlets. Their first two books, Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin and Milosevic: Portrait of a Tyrant, sprang directly from their experiences as journalists. In his review of Milosevic, Zachary T. Irwin wrote in Library Journal that because of their backgrounds, "perhaps no two authors are better qualified for the task of such a biography." In both Gorbachev and Milosevic, the authors present profiles of men whose actions made headlines across the world but whose backgrounds are not widely known to Western readers.

Their first book, Gorbachev, was published as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's empire was crumbling around him. The book "was conceived as a biography of Mikhail Gorbachev," Eugene H. Methvin explained in National Review, but it "became an encyclopedia of his regime at home and abroad." Branson and Doder attempt to answer the question of whether Gorbachev's radical reforms of the Soviet system were part of a premeditated plan to move toward a freer political and economic system or whether they were pragmatic reactions to unforeseen circumstances that arose during Gorbachev's time in office. "Doder and Branson are less interested in the abstract analysis of historical processes and future prospects than they are in the interplay of personalities and events," Robert V. Daniels commented in New Leader. Daniels continued by writing that as a result, the book offers "an exciting, fast-paced narrative—week by week and sometimes day by day—of Gorbachev's first five years at the helm" of the Soviet Union.

In Milosevic, Branson and Doder unsympathetically profile a man who presided over his country during an era of political collapse. Slobodan Milosevic, president of the former Yugoslavia, started four wars in the Balkans during his time in office and directly or indirectly caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people. However, rather than solely concentrating on constructing a record of Milosevic's political actions, the authors attempt to uncover the motivations behind them. A reviewer explained in Business Week that before Branson and Doder's book, "no writer …truly explored what makes Milosevic tick." Branson and Doder devote twenty-five pages to Milosevic's early life, including the suicides of both of his parents and his relationship with his wife, Marjana, who is widely seen as the force behind Milosevic's seat of power; the remainder of the book is dedicated to events that occurred in the 1980s and led to the crumbling of Yugoslavia during the 1990s. "With the hardened realism that comes from years of journalism and a first-hand knowledge of the Balkan scene, Doder and Branson …have written a vivid and scathing biography," declared a Publishers Weekly contributor.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of Milosevic: Portrait of a Tyrant, p. 505.

Business Week, December 27, 1999, review of Milosevic, p. 32.

International Journal, spring, 2000, review of Milosevic, pp. 333-334.

Library Journal, January, 2000, Zachary T. Irwin, review of Milosevic, p. 134.

National Review, October 15, 1990, Eugene H. Methvin, review of Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin, pp. 85-87.

New Leader, September 3, 1990, Robert V. Daniels, review of Gorbachev, pp. 20-21.

New Statesman, March 6, 2000, Richard Gott, review of Milosevic, p. 56.

New York Review of Books, January 20, 2000, Charles Simic, review of Milosevic, pp. 26-29.

New York Times Book Review, November 21, 1999, Charles King, review of Milosevic, p. 64.

Publishers Weekly, April 13, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Gorbachev, p. 52; November 8, 1999, review of Milosevic, p. 53.

SAIS Review, summer-fall, 2000, Anna Simons, review of Milosevic, pp. 159-166.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 29, 1999, review of Milosevic, p. E2.

Spectator, February 5, 2000, David Pryce-Jones, review of Milosevic, p. 30.

Time, July 16, 1990, Brigid O'Hara-Forster, review of Gorbachev, p. 82.

ONLINE

CNN Web site,http://www.cnn.com/ (March 23, 2000), transcript of web chat with Branson.*