From 1994 to 2006, William F. Schulz headed Amnesty International USA. During this time, he and the organization confronted some of the greatest challenges to human rights, including genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sudan; controversies over the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the use of torture by the United States after 9/11; as well as growing concern about inequities in the American justice system, from police misconduct to the death penalty. Drawing upon his encounters with tyrants, the inspiration of brave human rights heroes, and collaborations with celebrities ranging from Patrick Stewart to Salma Hayek, Schulz uses poignant narrative and amusing anecdotes to discuss the day-to-day realities of struggling with life-and-death human rights crises. In the process he ducks an assassination threat in Liberia; brings tears to the eyes of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland; and bests America's self-described “toughest sheriff" on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect.
Full of reflection as well as action, Reversing the Rivers provides Schulz with the opportunity to address profound philosophical questions, such as “What is the nature of evil?"; “How do we foster the 'better angels of our nature'?" “When may we use force to stop people from using force?" “Is the prohibition on torture as simple as it seems?" and “What's wrong with an eye for an eye?" Most important, in an eloquent concluding chapter, he answers the quandary most frequently posed to him during his years at Amnesty, “Given all the horrors in the world you see day after day, how do you retain any hope at all in humanity?"
William F. Schulz is a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. From 1994 to 2006, he served as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.
"Every war reporter, at core, is a human rights reporter. And I know of no better book on human rights than REVERSING THE RIVERS, by Bill Schulz, of Amnesty International. Schulz conducts a master class in both brilliant writing and being human. Read it!"
~Sebastian Junger, author of Freedom
"A story of great leadership, action, kindness, and compassion, told with sharp prose and candid humor. Through his own extraordinary tale and those of the multitudes of people he met as executive director of Amnesty International, William F. Schulz’s memoir shines a bright torch on the importance of human rights and our collective power to create a safer and greater world for all."
~Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
"Former executive director of Amnesty International USA William F. Schulz has given us a powerful book that reveals profound philosophical lessons for a new generation grappling with complex human rights issues. At a time when hope seems elusive, Schulz’s human rights journey, with its horrors and victories, heroes and villains, is an intriguing story of how to retain hope in humanity."
~Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation