Wolff, Craig (Thomas)
WOLFF, Craig (Thomas)
PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Rochester, B.A.
CAREER: Journalist and professor. New York Times, New York, NY, former reporter; Columbia University School of Journalism, New York, NY, assistant professor.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Press Club Award for Best Consumer Journalism, 1987; Pulitzer Prize finalist (with others), 1989, for New York Times coverage of Tawana Brawley scandal; Pulitzer Prize (with others), 1994, for New York Times coverage of 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Tennis Superstars: The Men, Ace Books, 1980.
Wayne Gretzky: Portrait of a Hockey Player, photographs by Bruce Curtis and Bruce Bennett, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1983.
(With Robert D. McFaden and others) Outrage: TheStory behind the Tawana Brawley Hoax, Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.
(With Kadiatou Diallo) My Heart Will Cross ThisOcean: My Story, My Son, Amadou (memoir), One World (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, Gentleman's Quarterly, Rolling Stone, Arts and Leisure, Inside Sports, ESPN Magazine, Boston Business, and New York Daily News.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A biography of Willie Mays.
SIDELIGHTS: Former New York Times reporter Craig Wolff collaborated with colleagues at that paper to write a book about their coverage of the Tawana Brawley case. Called Outrage: The Story behind the Tawana Brawley Hoax, the 1990 book tells the story of the then-fourteen-year-old Brawley who claimed that some men had sexually molested her. Craig and his fellow reporters investigated the case and found little evidence to support Brawley's claim. Although a grand jury was convened, Brawley never showed up and the case went nowhere. Despite information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicating no evidence of sexual assault, the New York City prosecutors assigned to the case went ahead because of political pressures, as they later admitted. Writing in IPT, the online journal of the Institute for Psychological Therapies, LeRoy Schultz stated, "The Brawley case is a vivid example of injustice and illustrates how hysteria and political pressure can influence the investigation of a case." The reviewer also described Outrage as "well-written and easy to read."
Wolff collaborated with Kadiatou Diallo for her memoir, which culminates in the tragic story of her son, Amadou, who was mistakenly killed by New York City policemen when he was shot forty-one times outside his apartment building in 1999. My Heart Will Cross This Ocean: My Story, My Son, Amadou reveals Kadiatou's life in West Africa, where she was given away in marriage at the age of thirteen to a businessman who already had one wife. Amadou was born three years later, after Kadiatou moved to Liberia with her husband. Her husband became successful in the import/export business, but Kadiatou spent much of her time alone as she bore him more children. However, Kadiatou became successful in her own business, and the two eventually divorced. Her son Amadou eventually came to America to study computer science. He ended up living in a small apartment in the Bronx and working as a street vendor. At age twenty-four he was shot in his apartment building's vestibule one evening upon returning home from work. The story continues as Kadiatou comes to America to seek justice for her son and deals with people like the Reverend Al Sharpton and lawyer Johnnie Cochran. Although Amadou was not armed, the undercover policemen who shot him were later acquitted of all charges.
Writing in the Washington Post, Lynne Duke commented that My Heart Will Cross This Ocean "presents a rare, rich and quite moving portrait of the life of an African woman." The reviewer also noted that the book "is flawed in its flow, with jerky chapters" and found that it lacked "overt social commentary on tough issues." Nevertheless, Duke wrote, "there also is magic in scenes of the most mundane kind." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the memoir "uneven" and also felt that "not one character is vividly drawn." In a review in the Crisis, Angela Ards wrote that the text is "at turns analytical and incisive, then candid and poetic." Ards also commented that Kadiatou's "memoir explores the ways in which a social order rife with patriarch and racism led to her son's fate, which was, of course, inextricably linked with her own." A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked that some readers may have wished to hear more about Amadou's death and Kadiatou's interaction with well-known public figures. But the reviewer went on to note that "Diallo's determination and survivor's instinct are powerful inspirations in their own right."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2003, Vanessa Bush, review of MyHeart Will Cross This Ocean: My Story, My Son, Amadou, p. 1559.
Crisis, May-June, 2003, Angela Ards, review of MyHeart Will Cross This Ocean, p. 52.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of My HeartWill Cross This Ocean, p. 518.
Progressive, April, 2004, Eleanor Bader, review of MyHeart Will Cross This Ocean, p. 43.
Publishers Weekly, March 31, 2003, review of MyHeart Will Cross This Ocean, p. 51.
Washington Post, August 17, 2003, Lynne Duke, review of My Heart Will Cross This Ocean, p. T4.
Columbia University Graduate School of JournalismWeb Site,http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/ (February 11, 2005), "Craig Wolff."
IPT Online (Journal of the Institute for Psychological Therapies), http://www.ipt-forensics.com/ (spring, 1991), LeRoy Schultz, review of Outrage: The Story behind the Tawana Brawley Hoax.*