Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Books That Rock: Fools Rush In by Bill Carter

Some might call Bill Carter a madman.  Many might call him a hero of sorts.  No matter how you decide to decipher or explain the things he has done or seen as a man who had to place in a war zone, yet, went to a war zone, his amazing and aptly titled book Fools Rush In tells the tale of a lost young man who puts the tale of Alexander Supertramp and his magic bus to complete shame.

This a story of love, death, courage....and Bono.

In the early 90's, when there was a rebirth of some sort of independent spirit, recent college graduate Bill Carter had feared that he would be destined to simply "sit in a bath tub and read the classifieds".  So instead of following what he calls "a doomed life of mortgages, credit cards, and sitcom television", he began to roam the earth.  And to no real surprise, there was a girl behind his misadventures who appears as a sort of shadow following Bill around as he searches desperately to forget, forgive, and just learn how to live again.

Which becomes the set up for Bill Carter to join a batch of gypsy do gooders making there way into the heart of Bosnian war that was in full force.  And just as Bill had tried desperately to find his place in this world, he must decide what is place is in the third world.  He meets the people who have become shockingly accustomed to war and the physical and mental darkness that comes with such violence and tragedy.  He saw death.  He saw destruction.  He saw love.  He witnessed the bonds that tie families together, and the forces of evil beyond their control that would tear them apart.

 And then there's Bono.  As if it might be some sort of surprise, the notorious philanthropists found there way into the scenario.  But, it wasn't as though they were searching for a way to help.  They were successfully coerced by Carter to take an active part, and make aware of what has been happening in the bloody streets of Sarajevo.  For those over 30, you might actually remember the large satellite beamed jumbo screens that U2 had aired during their European tour.  From these giant screens the folks feeling the most pain from this terrible war were given a voice.  They had the chance to tell thousands of people about they were continuously a witness to.  The audiences were challenged to really think about what was going on in this not so far away land.  Even Bono and his merry men were criticized when one brave woman asked "What will you do?" and without even a chance of response, she would say "I think nothing". 

But, eventually some sort of peace was restored in Bosnia, and U2 would play a promised show in the heart of Sarajevo.  To the bands credit, they were long yearning to play while the fighting was going on as an even stronger sign of support, but were basically refused access.  But, as soon as it were possible, there they were.  And they would return several times over, and would eventually be the spokespersons for bringing awareness to the disaster that was the Bosnian war.  No matter how much fun we sometimes like to poke at Bono and what seems to be his own somewhat earned sense of self worth (sometimes being referred to as the Toby Keith of Rock N Roll), this is an occurrence when he and his group really reached out and made a difference

And none of this would have been made possible had it not been for the one and only Bill Carter.  Whether you think he was a madman or a hero for throwing himself into a war of which a boy of California had absolutely nothing to do with, it doesn't change the fact that what our man did made an impact in the lives thousands of Bosnian people.  And all over a girl?  Had the Internet reached the height it is at now, he might have created a social networking site.  Instead, he created a documentary from with the war zone (the award winning Miss Sarajevo), survived a war, personally touched the lives of so many people held hostage by their own nation, influenced the most influential rock band in the world to support the people of Bosnia, and retold his harrowing tale in the pages of Fools Rush In.  Now that is something to "like".

Bill Carter is a freelance writer and photographer who's articles have been found in Spin, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and more.  He is also the author of another inspiring novel about self discovery entitled Red Summer, another memoir of his times spent as a commercial fisherman in the Alaskan seas.

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