Upcoming Event
  • American Mother

    by Colum McCann, Diane Foley
    Price $25.99
    In Stock
    American Mother

Colum McCann and Diane M. Foley at Harvard Book Store


American Mother

in conversation with CHARLES SENNOTT


March 7, 2024
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes COLUM MCCANN—National Book Award winning author of Let the Great World Spin—and DIANE M. FOLEY—President and Founder of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation—for a discussion of their new book American Mother. They will be joined in conversation by CHARLES SENNOTT—Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The GroundTruth Project.

About American Mother

In late 2021, Diane Foley sat at a table across from her son's killer, Alexanda Kotey, a member of the ISIS group known as "The Beatles" who plead guilty to the kidnapping, torture, and murder of her son seven years before. Kotey was about to go serve life imprisonment and this was Diane’s chance to talk to the man who had been involved with brutally taking her son's last breath. What would she say to his killer? What would he reveal to her? Might she even be able to summon forgiveness for him?

So begins American Mother— which reads alternately like a thriller, a biography, a mystery, a memoir, and a literary examination of grace.

Diane looks back on the early days when Jim was a child and his journey to journalism, and the killing fields of the world where he reports with indefatigable determination and insight on the plight of those caught up in the agonies of war. She guides us through her family history and the difficulties they faced when Jim was captured. And she also charts the tenacity it takes to turn her grief into grace as she seeks to give voice to those who are still being kidnapped and wrongfully detained around the world.

Few journeys are more worthy than this and, in this astonishing book, we are all invited to celebrate the lives of those who are never, in the end, gone.

Praise for American Mother

"American Mother is a book that will shake your soul out. A thriller, a memoir, a mystery, a portrait of forgiveness, and a literary song of grace, Colum McCann and Diane Foley have filled the empty chair for us all. One of the most extraordinarily well-braided stories that I have read in years." —Sting

"There is nothing quite as moving as a mother’s words about her lost child. In American Mother, the courage and generosity of spirit of Diane Foley in sharing her story about the loss of her beloved son, Jim, is a very special gift. Diane’s unyielding faith in the goodness of others and her commitment to changing the status quo give us all hope." —Speaker Nancy Pelosi

"This is an extraordinary story of grace, forgiveness and moral courage. Bookended by Diane Foley’s meetings with her son’s killer, American Mother plunges us into the heart of darkness and then, somehow, on the far end, discovers unexpected light and hope. Diane Foley’s voice, as captured by Colum McCann, is one of the most compelling in recent literary memory. An honest, searing, heartbreaking book." —Patrick Radden Keefe

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Charles Sennott
Charles Sennott

Charles Sennott

Charles Sennott is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The GroundTruth Project. He is an award-winning correspondent, best-selling author and editor with 40 years of experience in international, national and local journalism. A leading social entrepreneur in new media, Sennott in 2009 became the co-founder of GlobalPost, an acclaimed international news website. He then founded GroundTruth and served as its CEO and Editor-in-Chief from 2012 to 2022. In 2017, GroundTruth launched a local reporting initiative, Report for America, and in 2021 launched an international, sister program, Report for the World.

Colum McCann
Colum McCann

Colum McCann

Colum McCann is the author of seven novels, three collections of stories and two works of non-fiction. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honours, including the U.S National Book Award, the International Dublin Literary Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. He is the President and co-founder of the non-profit global story exchange organisation, Narrative 4. He is the Thomas Hunter Writer in Residence in Hunter College, in New York, where he lives with his wife Allison and their family. His most recent novel, Apeirogon, became an immediate New York Times best-seller and won several major international awards.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Eagle

Diane M. Foley
Diane M. Foley

Diane M. Foley

Diane M. Foley is President and Founder of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, JWFLF, which she created in September 2014 less than a month after the public beheading by ISIS in Syria of her son James W. Foley, an American freelance conflict journalist. She has been a tireless hostage, wrongful detainee and family advocate within the US hostage enterprise, Congress, and every presidential administration since 2014. She has raised awareness of international hostage taking and wrongful detention using the award-winning documentary, “Jim, the James Foley story”, opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and media interviews.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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