All We Leave Behind: A Reporter's Journey into the Lives of Others

Category: Book
By (author): Off, Carol
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Editors, Journalists, Publishers
  HISTORY / Middle East / General
  NON-FICTION / Canadian
Awards: Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize (2017) Short-listed
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: September 2017
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 320
Size: 9.29in x 6.31in x 1.05in

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*One of Canada's most respected journalists, As It Happens's Carol Off, relates the gripping story of a family's desperate attempts to escape Afghan warlords, Taliban oppression, and the persecutions of refugee life. 

In 2002, Carol Off and a CBC TV crew encountered an Afghan man with a story to tell. Asad Aryubwal became a key figure in their documentary on the terrible power of thuggish warlords who were working arm in arm with Americans and NATO troops. When Asad publicly exposed the deeds of one of the warlords, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, it set off a chain of events from which there was no turning back. Asad, his wife, Mobina, and their five children had to flee their home.      
The family faced an uncertain future. But their dilemma compelled a journalist to cross the lines of disinterested reporting and become deeply involved. Together, they navigated the Byzantine international bureaucracy and the decidedly unwelcoming policies of Stephen Harper's government until the family finally found a new home.     
     Carol Off's powerful account traces not only one family's journey and fraught attempts to immigrate to a safe place, it also illustrates what happens when a journalist becomes irrevocably caught up in the lives of the people in her story and finds herself unable to leave them behind.
Review Quote*Finalist for the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

"With clear, page-turning prose, Off embarks on a rigorous and honest examination of her role in the family's fate, first as a journalist, but ultimately as a friend, when she crosses the line of dispassionate reportage and becomes deeply involved in their bid to reach Canada. The book is an insightful contemplation of journalism's mission, and its impact on the lives of the people who dare to speak out in the name of truth." -2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury (Susan Harada, Arno Kopecky and Siobhan Roberts)


"The CBC reporter steers by her own conscience and that is to tell the story from the point of view of the powerless." -Vancouver Sun
"One of our country's finest and most prolific journalists. . . . Off's journalistic style reveals a deep humanity in the stories she tells about Canadians and people around the world." -Richard Hardacre, ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) National President 
"Carol Off is one of the relatively few journalists and authors who actually manage to hold that thought and purpose throughout their careers, calmly and purposefully transmitting the stories of humans to other humans." -Joan Barefoot 
"There are a number of terms one could choose to describe Carol Off . . . most of which may appear incongruous when taken together. High-school dropout. Single mother. Award-winning filmmaker. Author. Arts reporter. War correspondent. She's a woman who's comfortable in many roles. . . . The urge to put the story first is typical of Off. . . .  Off loves to report on the artistic scene, with its colourful and passionate characters, and rich and complex narratives. She loves the challenge and the struggle to engage viewers who don't always care. But even though this beat always piques her curiosity, she is always drawn back to current affairs." -Alexandra Shimo, The Globe and Mail 
"[Off] has a passion for storytelling in a dramatic and accurate way." -University of Western Ontario Gazette
"Off writes with a meticulous sense for disconcerting details that resonate with ugly truth." -Calgary Straight


"Off's narrative is sharp and concise, covering hundreds of years of history in detail, her conversational style making the reading as easy as it is enlightening. . . . Bitter Chocolate is an astounding eye-opener that takes no prisoners in its account of an industry built on an image of sweetness and innocence, but which hides a dark and often cruel reality. You'll never look at chocolate the same way again." -Quill & Quire
"Her book does offer a kind of pleasure-not that of a charming saga, but of fiercely impassioned reporting. . . . In a sense, Bitter Chocolate is less a book about chocolate than it is a study of racism, imperialism and oppression as told through the lens of a single commodity." -The Globe and Mail
"When one thinks of fearless, hard-as-nails journalists, Carol Off's name is legendary. . . .  In the style of Mark Kurlansky's Salt, Bitter Chocolate unravels chocolate's glittery packaging and uncovers an industry tainted by war and genocide, child slavery and the ‘vast gulf' that separates our children from Africa's." -Ottawa XPress
"We know chocolate makers have their secrets-like how they get that caramel in there. That one, though, is pretty tame compared with the stuff unearthed in veteran muckraker Carol Off's new expose, Bitter Chocolate. . . . Off does a spectacular job of documenting the legal loopholes and willful blindness of the chocolate companies and hungry public over the past century." -Toronto Star
"Award-winning Toronto writer Carol Off has written an astonishing exposé on the production and distribution of chocolate, a wrenching story and one well-researched by an investigative journalist who has proven she knows the ropes. . . . Bitter Chocolate is a compelling and important book." -The London Free Press
"In a style that mixes hard-nosed reporting, historical exploration, and sardonic wit, Off uncovers the dark side of Big Chocolate. . . . In well-researched and often-compelling prose, Off takes the reader on a rich, darkly textured journey through the history of chocolate and delivers an inside look at the multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. . . . She makes her case so strongly and with such nuanced flavour that the book becomes as hard to put down as a bar of Toblerone. " -Shared Vision
Biographical NoteCAROL OFF is the host of CBC Radio's As It Happens, the network's flagship evening radio programme covering human interest stories worldwide. With extensive experience in both Canadian and international current affairs, Off has covered conflicts in the Middle East, Haiti, the Balkans and the sub-continent, as well as events in the former Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada. She reported the fallout from the 9/11 disasters with news features and documentaries from New York, Washington, London, Cairo and Afghanistan. She has won numerous awards for her CBC television documentaries in Asia, Africa and Europe and is the author of three previous books, most recently, Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet, a finalist for the National Business Book Award and nominated for the prestigious Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing. She lives in Toronto.