Bob Harris has had a diverse career as a stand-up comedian, TV and radio personality, magazine columnist, voiceover performer, TV writer, and political activist. He has appeared on Jeopardy! thirteen times, winning $170,000 in cash and prizes, staging some of the most memorable upsets and collapses in the show's history. His first book, Prisoner of Trebekistan (Crown, 2006), chronicling his Jeopardy! experience, was widely praised, as was his second, Who Hates Whom (Three Rivers, 2007), which catalogued sectarian and factional animosity around the world. He holds an honors degree in electrical engineering and applied physics from Case Western Reserve University. Bob lives in Los Angeles.
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After giving hundreds of loans through Kiva.org, Bob Harris discusses why the word micro-finance should probably be discarded and what the many travels tracking the recipients of his loans, have taught him.
Is the book a travel book, a banking book, a book about poverty alleviation, or what?
It's all of the above, really, given that it's about two trips around the world and coming to realize that microlending is a great approach to poverty in many countries. But it's ultimately more about a growing sense of wonderat the resourcefulness of the clients, at the welcome that I was given even in places where I really didn't imagine I'd feel at home, and how incredibly similar the dreams were of clients all over the world. The desire to do work hard and build a better life for our kids that's not the "American dream." It's a human dream.
What made you go from writing about luxury hotels to writing about microfinance?
I was freelancing for Forbes Traveler, reviewing luxury accommodations, which meant I was living like a billionaire without having to actually pay for anything. I had just stayed at a $3 billion hotel in Abu Dhabi, which has an ATM machine that spits out gold bullion, and where 11 pounds ...
Blood at the Root
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