By Bree Nordenson
I met Ann Louise Bardach at her home in Santa Barbara one afternoon in early January. I was running late because of traffic and just before I arrived, she called to inform me that I had missed something “very big.” As she breathlessly led me into the kitchen of the modest-sized bungalow she shares with her husband, the actor Bobby Lesser, Bardach, a small, wiry woman with auburn hair and large brown eyes, attempted to explain at breakneck speed the startling events of the past hour. In between letting out several yelps of glee accompanied by what is best described as a little jig, she announced that a U.S. representative was launching a congressional investigation into the government’s relationship with Luis Posada Carriles, the notorious anti-Castro militant on whom she had been reporting for years and the reason she is currently facing a federal subpoena (“I’m just trying to stay out of jail one day at a time.”).
According to Bardach, preparation—reading, researching, and working her sources—was barely half the battle in profiling the Cuban president. “The whole thing is stamina,” she says, “keeping up with Castro.” For Bardach, though, energy has never been in short supply—“I was a hyperactive child and now I’m a hyperactive adult,” she explains. She’s “one of these reporters you get e-mails from at two in the morning,” says Stephen Engelberg, the former investigative editor of The New York Times, who worked with Bardach on a 1998 series about anti-Castro militants. “She always very, very, very excited.”
Bree Nordenson is an assistant editor at CJR.