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A Fred Cuny The Dallas Morning Nees/Judy Walgren Cuny set up shop in a hillside house in Sarajevo and, fortified with Mexican food and beer he had flown in, set about saving lives. In Chechnya, attempting to evacuate civilians caught in combat, he was apparently convinced he could also broker a ceasefire. Cuny left behind an embellished list of his own accomplishments, including “U.S. Marine, literary critic and statesman”; but he was brutally candid about another epithet: “poor father.” Though “The Lost American” includes an interview, in Surfside, Texas, with Beth Rabren, it does not explain why they divorced after less than three years, why he fought for custody of their son Craig, or why he won. Yet when Craig, who lives in Austin, was four, Cuny left the boy to be reared by his grandparents and flew off to save the world. His humor, intelligence, and energy attracted women in several time zones. In Heath, Texas, Chris Cuny recalls a beloved older brother who was a friend to the world but a stranger at home: “People in Washington and Geneva and Sarajevo and Africa, you know, he’s a tremendous figure and tremendous, you know, hero. And a statesman. But, in Texas, nobody really knew him.” “The Lost American” is another native tale of innocence abroad. In a sense, Cuny, who awaited appointment to high position in the Clinton administration, was lost long before the chilly day that a Chechen warlord likely murdered him for the money that he carried. “He wanted to be significant,” says Dalena Wright, a friend, “and it got harder to be significant delivering humanitarian aid. And I think the need to be significant weighed heavier and heavier.” A stout altruist in cowboy boots can throw his weight around only so much before gravity kicks back. In the end, one brave American was lost. Tens of thousands were saved. II] Steven Kellman is the Ashbel Smith Professor of Comparative Literature, U.T.San Antonio. OVA Labor Intensive Radio gadio of the_ union, by, the uniun land for the union. its produced union mentAer5 eradicated to i7r4iging tii VOIGC of IOr to the Au5tin ainvaves. 1ur,e4 L*ay5. 6-,50-7:00 MB? SW FM IX elm 49340 “sloth TX 761eb Subscribe to the Texas Observer 307 W. 7th St. Austin, TX 78701 email: [email protected] OCTOBER 24, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27