For the decade that Geraldine Brooks was a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, she kept a packing checklist in her bedside table drawer that included field dressings, a chador, a bulletproof vest and what she called a “king” suit — a set of good clothes, in case a dictator invited her to tea. But it wasn’t until a dictator threw her in prison, instead of inviting her to tea, that she put the kibosh on that chapter of her career and sent herself home.
It was 1994, and the activities of the Shell oil company in Nigeria had been poisoning the villages of the Ogoni people. When the villagers began to protest peacefully, Gen. Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s dictator, sent in the military. Ms. Brooks began reporting on the atrocities his troops were perpetrating on these impoverished subsistence farmers; when she approached the military command for comment, she was detained for three days.
“I was in the slammer,” Ms. Brooks said, “and I didn’t know how long they were going to keep me. And that was when I realized, ‘Whoops, if we’re going to have a family, we’d better get cracking.’”
the author and journalist who died in 2019, were safely ensconced on Martha’s Vineyard, in a slightly askew, hand-hewed post-and-beam house with a spectacularly sagging roof, most of it built in the mid-18th century, on five meadowy acres. They had two sons, and two Pulitzer Prizes between them.
“The Secret Chord,” from 2015, about King David).