Eisner, Peter (Norman) 1950-
EISNER, Peter (Norman) 1950-
PERSONAL: Born August 27, 1950, in Jersey City, NJ; married Musha Salinas, August 27, 1981; children: Isabel, Marina. Education: Rutgers University, B.A., 1972.
ADDRESSES: Home—Bethesda, MD. Agent—c/o Author Mail, William Morrow, 10 East 53rd St., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Register-Star, Hudson, NY, reporter, 1974-75; Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie, NY, reporter, 1975-76; Associated Press (news service), newsman in New York, NY, 1978-79, correspondent in Brasilia, Brazil, 1979-81, bureau chief in Caracas, Venezuela, 1982, news editor for Mexico and Central America in Mexico City, Mexico, 1982-83; Newsday, New York, NY, deputy foreign editor, 1984-85, senior foreign editor, 1985-89, senior correspondent, 1989-94; NewsCom, Coral Gables, FL, managing director, 1994-98; Center for Public Integrity, Washington, DC, managing director, 1999-2001; Washington Post, Washington, DC, deputy foreign editor, 2003—.
MEMBER: Interamerican Press Association (member, board of directors, 1988-94).
(Editor and translator) Maria Jimena Duzán, Death Beat: A Colombian Journalist's Life inside the Cocaine Wars, Harper Collins (New York, NY), 1994.
The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Pilots from the Nazis during World War II, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of articles for various publications, including American Prospect.
SIDELIGHTS: Longtime journalist and news editor Peter Eisner spent several years during the 1980s working for the Associated Press in Central and South America. As a result, he became familiar with the work of South American journalist Maria Jimena Duzán and served as the English editor and translator for her book Death Beat: A Colombian Journalist's Life inside the Cocaine Wars. The book recounts Duzán's firsthand experiences covering the region's political and drug-related violence for El Espectador of Bogota, Columbia. In the book, Duzán does not just report on others but also tells of her own encounters with the drug lords as a stout anti-drug journalist whose house was bombed and whose sister and colleague Sylvia Duzán was murdered.
Eisner interviewed former Panamanian leader General Miguel Noriega to write his next book, America's Prisoner: The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega. In 1989 the United States invaded Panama after two American soldiers were shot at a roadblock. Noriega was soon arrested as a brutal and corrupt dictator who was accused of murdering opponents and drug trafficking. He was deported to Miami, where he stood trial in 1992, was convicted of drug smuggling, and sentenced to a prison term of forty years. The book is in part Noriega's first person memoir, but includes separate analysis and commentary by Eisner. In his introduction to the book Eisner sets the stage for a defense of Noriega, noting that the invasion of Panama was not justified and that the United States was not as interested in bringing Noriega to justice as it was in other geopolitical goals. Among these goals, according to Eisner and Noriega, was the desire to retake control of the Panama Canal. They also discuss how outside influences from the rich elite, who hated the lower-class Noriega, helped spur the invasion. In addition, the authors claim that then President George Bush believed he had to act because Noriega remained defiant to many U.S. requests, such as helping them in the fight against the Sandinistas. As a result, Noriega was making President Bush look weak. Although Noriega lists many other charges against the United States, Eisner cautiously evaluates many of them in his afterword to the book.
Writing in the Washington Monthly, Robert A. Pastor disputed some of the accusations made by Noriega and Eisner, pointing out that Noriega was often cooperative with the United States and that the United States had shown no real interest in keeping control over the Panama Canal in the long run. "The real story, however, is in what Noriega omitted—from the sources of his wealth to the brutal way he trained and dispatched his goon squads," wrote Pastor. Library Journal contributor Roderic A. Camp commented that the book is "not a complete or objective memoir" but that it does make a good argument against government distortions of the truth.
In his 2004 book, The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Pilots from the Nazis during World War II, Eisner recounts the story of a mostly forgotten group of resistance fighters. Called the Comet Line, these fighters were made up of men and women from Spain, France, and Belgium. Their primary goal was to save Allied fliers who were shot down during missions in Nazi-occupied Europe. Eisner came to tell the story because of his familiarity with the Basque region of Spain, where his wife is from and where many of the Allied troops were smuggled to during their escape. Although many of the fighters in the Comet Line were eventually captured by the Germans, some also escaped, and Eisner relies on their reminiscences and on archival research for the bulk of his story. He also details the experience of Robert Grimes, an American B-17 pilot who was shot down over Belgium and subsequently rescued by the Comet Line; as well as of a nefarious German double agent within the group who was eventually caught. Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor called The Freedom Line an "inspiring World War II story filled with courage and steely nerves," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Eisner's "familiarity [with the Basque area] permeates this taut account of trust and bravery among civilians and military men."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Pilots from the Nazis during World War II, p. 1418.
Insight on the News, June 6, 1994, Christine Caldwell, review of Death Beat: A Colombian Journalist's Life inside the Cocaine Wars, p. 29.
Library Journal, May 15, 1997, Roderic A. Camp, review of America's Prisoner: The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega, p. 88; May 1, 2004, Marie Marmo Mullaney, review of The Freedom Line, p. 123.
Publishers Weekly, January 31, 1994, review of Death Beat, p. 70; April 12, 2004, review of The Freedom Line, p. 54.
Washington Monthly, June, 1997, Robert A. Pastor, review of America's Prisoner: The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega, p. 43.