"'The Lost American' ... traces the life of humanitarian aid worker Fred Cuny, a near-mythic Texan who helped revolutionize disaster relief around the world.
But rather than the straight do-gooder profile one might expect, Cuny's story is one filled with complex motives, breathtaking selflessness, Byzantine political maneuvers and a depressingly tragic end. It's both an adventure story and a political thriller, one that producer Sherry Jones, director Foster Wiley and narrator Harrison Ford present with a movie-like technique that makes 'The Lost American' less a documentary than a modern-day western, with Cuny starring in the role of 'relief cowboy."
"The 90-minute program seems out of balance: the praise for Mr. Cuny is generous, the specifics of his accomplishments and connections are sketchy. A specialist in building refugee camps that could function despite all manner of obstacles, he appears to have had his greatest success after the Persian Gulf war when he helped create a security zone for beset Kurds in northern Iraq. In Somalia, by contrast, Washington ignored his warnings against taking on the local warlord and the United States met a humiliating defeat in the back alleys of Mogadishu.
For many viewers, whose hearts are touched and wallets are opened by pictures of dying babies in distant lands, 'The Lost American' will be an introduction to a tangle of tribal rivalries, diplomatic caution, big power indifference and logistical nightmares. Channeling help where, when and in what form it is needed turns out to be much harder than just raising money."
"Tonight's FRONTLINE produced by multi-award-winner Sherry Jones and directed by the similarly distinguished Foster Wiley, offers what appear to be definitive answers to most of those nagging questions--at least, as definitive as anyone can reasonably expect given the time, place and circumstances of Cuny's disappearance.
Even more intriguing, though, is the mystery of Fred Cuny himself, a man who became one of the world's foremost leaders of the humanitarian-aid movement by little more than the sheer force of his will--and yet was virtually unknown to the vast majority of his fellow Americans."
"Obviously, Cuny was an unusual man, and tonight's FRONTLINE keeps peeling off layers and layers of revelation about his ideas, his accomplishments, his frustrations. Hovering over the entire account comes the most frustrating question of them all--when he did go away?"
"...Narrated by America's favorite adventurer--Harrison Ford--and with strong contributions from the journalists, refugee workers and women who knew him well, the show brings Cuny back to life as a fascinating global trouble shooter who wandered the world's killing fields and wherever the worst disasters were taking place."
who killed fred cuny .
map of cuny's world .
from his laptop .
on the life .
his radio interviews .
special reports .
pursuing whitewater .
viewer discussion .
press reaction .
tapes & transcripts
web site copyright 1995-2014
WGBH educational foundation