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Kristof, wife produce society self-help book

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Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - Acclaimed writer Nicholas Kristof, an Oregon native who appeared at an event here last weekend, wrote 'A Path Appears' with wife Sheryl WuDunn. It's the fourth book for the writing power duo.Sunday represented a homecoming for Nicholas Kristof, when he returned to Oregon as a guest speaker for Senior Advocates for Generational Equity.

While he has gone on to international fame and a Pulitzer Prize-winning career as a journalist, Kristof grew up on a sheep and cherry farm in Yamhill. His first job in journalism came when he was in high school, working for the McMinnville News-Register.

Kristof says growing up on a farm made his college years and, later, international reporting seem like a piece of cake.

“It was a bit of an adjustment going from a farm in Oregon to my freshman year at Harvard,” Kristof says. “But, if you can handle unpleasant cattle, you can handle just about anything.”

Kristof was excited to come back to Oregon, where the residents hold many of the same values he writes about in books and columns for The New York Times.

“I always love coming back,” Kristof says. “Oregonians are very civic minded and care about international issues. It’s a privilege to come back.”

SAGE President Ward Greene was thrilled to bring Kristof back to Oregon.

“He inspires people around the globe to live a legacy of service and advocacy for future generations,” Greene says.

During the SAGE event, Kristof spoke about his latest book “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity” ($27.95, Random House), which he co-authored with his wife Sheryl WuDunn. The book is an exploration of people who are making the world a better place and how to support them.

“We wanted to offer some guidance,” Kristof says. “There are a lot of Americans who would like to give back. We featured a lot of pretty good evidence of that. We wanted to provide that evidence to a large

audience.”

Kristof and WuDunn's new book.Kristof and WuDunn are THE power couple in the world of journalism. In 1990, they became the first husband and wife to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for their reporting on the pro-democracy student movement and the related Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

“When we won the Pulitzer together, it was a very difficult time in China,” Kristof says. “We had friends who were in prison. We were being followed and harassed by the Chinese government. It was very comforting to have somebody else there going through the same thing. We would plan strategies, figure out how to keep people safe over pillow talk. It was a difficult time and a scary time. It made it easier that we were a couple going through it together.”

The 55-year-old Kristof has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist six times. He won his second Pulitzer in 2006 for commentary for columns on the genocide in Darfur.

“Path” is the fourth book Kristof and WuDunn have collaborated on (“Half the Sky,” “Thunder from the East” and “China Wakes” being the others). The husband-wife duo have perfected their system of writing with each other.

“People always ask, ‘How do you write a book together and stay married?’” Kristof says. “The truth is if you can raise three kids together you can do anything. A book is a lot easier of a project than raising three kids. It’s worked out very well.

“We divided the topics up. One of us would report one topic and that person would write it. The other person would edit that heavily and then the other would do a lot more editing. It all kind of fit together. It was like a big mosaic.”

Because of their system, Kristof believes it will be difficult for readers to know which parts he wrote and which parts WuDunn wrote.

“I don’t think it will be easy to figure out which started out as my chapter and which started out as Sheryl’s chapter,” Kristof says. “We edit each other so heavily that I don’t think there’s a clear voice in any one place.”