Carol Off is the current host of CBC radio’s As It Happens, the network’s flagship investigative news program covering breaking international stories. It is heard nationally on CBC’s Radio One in Canada, internationally via the Sirius network, and in more than 180 U.S. markets via Public Radio International (PRI).
With extensive experience in both Canadian and international current affairs, Off has covered conflicts in the Middle East, Haiti, the Balkans and the sub-continent, as well as events in the former Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada. She reported the fallout from the 9/11 disasters with news features and documentaries from New York, Washington, London, Cairo and Afghanistan.
Off’s coverage of the post-war reconstruction of the Balkans and the war crimes trial for Yugoslavia led her to write the best-selling book, The Lion, the Fox and the Eagle: A Story of Generals and Justice in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and another national best-seller on the war in Croatia, The Ghosts of Medak Pocket: The Story of Canada’s Secret War, which won the prestigious Dafoe Foundation Award in 2005. Her most recent book, Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet, was a finalist for the National Business Book Award and was nominated for the prestigious Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing. Her newest work, All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others was published in 2017 and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the BC National Prize for Nonfiction. She lives and works in Toronto.
Author photo by Kevin Kelly
(Random House Canada, September, 2017)
Finalist, 2017 Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction; Finalist, 2017 Hillary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction; Finalist, 2018 BC National Prize for Nonfiction
In 2002, Carol Off and a CBC TV crew encountered an Afghan man with a story to tell. Asad Aryubwal became a key figure in their documentary on the terrible power of thuggish warlords who were working arm in arm with Americans and NATO troops. When Asad publicly exposed the deeds of one of the warlords, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, it set off a chain of events from which there was no turning back. Asad, his wife, Mobina, and their five children had to flee their home.
The family faced an uncertain future. But their dilemma compelled a journalist to cross the lines of disinterested reporting and become deeply involved. Together, they navigated the Byzantine international bureaucracy and the decidedly unwelcoming policies of Stephen Harper’s government until the family finally found a new home.
Carol Off’s powerful account traces not only one family’s journey and fraught attempts to immigrate to a safe place, it also illustrates what happens when a journalist becomes irrevocably caught up in the lives of the people in her story and finds herself unable to leave them behind.
“With clear, page-turning prose, Off embarks on a rigorous and honest examination of her role in the family’s fate, first as a journalist, but ultimately as a friend, when she crosses the line of dispassionate reportage and becomes deeply involved in their bid to reach Canada. The book is an insightful contemplation of journalism’s mission, and its impact on the lives of the people who dare to speak out in the name of truth.” —2017 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury (Susan Harada, Arno Kopecky and Siobhan Roberts)