The Door of No Return

By, Michael Shipler

GORÉE ISLAND, Senegal — It is an image which should be seared in our consciousness. Travelers, when they arrive, should look upon it and feel that a most familiar image had leaped from the pages of history into real life, and the horror of the place should wash over them. …


The Memory Map project on exhibit in Washington DC

In the days following the Easter bombings across Sri Lanka, the world turned its gaze to Kattankudy to understand how this coastal town of 45,000 people had given rise to Zaharan Hashim, the man who led the attacks. The portrait which emerged is woefully incomplete: this Muslim town did not just give rise to a terrorist but also to a peacebuilder.

Hashim had founded the previously unknown National Thowheeth Jama’ath which carried out the ISIS-inspired attack, killing over 250 people and bringing the country to its knees, sparking widespread fear that there would be retaliatory violence which could spiral out…


By Michael Shipler

When we got to page 200 or so of the Fellowship of the Rings, my then 9-year old daughter stopped me and asked, “Are there any girls in this book?” I paused for a moment, afraid that she might balk at the answer. The Lord of the Rings is a great piece of literature written by JRR Tolkien and is almost the perfect series to read to a kid. It’s above her reading level, so doing it together is a must. …


Michael Shipler

I used to love going into Singha Durbar with Bhola. Whenever he entered Kathmandu’s sweeping parliamentary square where the Prime Minister’s office and the government ministries are housed, he glowed and smiled like a man who knew his way around. He had friends on every corner, would greet everyone — from security guard to minister — with a gentle and enthusiastic “Namaste,” hands quickly pressed together and held high. The last time I went there with him was in May of this year when we met with the newly appointed Inspector General of the Nepal Police with whom…

Michael Shipler

Associate Vice President, Strategy and Program Quality, Search for Common Ground

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