Colum McCann and Diane M. Foley at Harvard Book Store
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
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
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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While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
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