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Abertura logo > The Story > Biographies > Dominique Lapierre

Dominique Lapierre: Bestselling Writer Turns Philanthropist

Pope John Paul II invited the Lapierres to the Vatican to encourage them in their humanitarian action.

Dominique Lapierre has touched many people through his life and work. His first taste of fame followed the summer when he was 17 years old and left Paris with US$30, worked aboard a ship, disembarked in the United States and managed a 30,000-mile jaunt around North America. This adventure led to Lapierre's first best-selling book, A Dollar for a Thousand Miles. Since then, he has continuously searched for new messages and stories. While completing military service in 1954, Lapierre met an American soldier named Larry Collins. An everlasting friendship-and a valuable partnership-sprang from this meeting. Years later, they would collaborate on some of the century's most memorable books including Is Paris Burning?, which was made into a major motion picture boasting 30 international stars; ...Or I'll Dress You in Mourning, O Jerusalem, Freedom at Midnight, and The Fifth Horseman, books read by millions of readers in more than 30 languages.

Lapierre's solo work have been equally impressive. His book Freely on the Soviet Roads was another best-seller, and he followed with Chessman Told Me, a book about the famous convict Caryl Chessman, who confessed to Lapierre before meeting his death at San Quentin.

In 1981, Lapierre founded a humanitarian association rescuing children suffering from leprosy from the slums of Calcutta, which is supported by half the royalties from his literary successes. Lapierre went back to Calcutta to visit his "children" and stayed two years researching, after which he published another best-seller, The City of Joy. This book, which was made into a major motion picture starring Patrick Swayze, has sold over eight million copies. It tells the epic survival story of the population of one of India's poorest slums. It was rewarded with the prestigious U.S. literary Christopher Award.

While researching in Calcutta, Lapierre became a close associate of Mother Teresa who gave him the exclusive authorization to write a film on her life and the work of her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity. With Geraldine Chaplin playing the role of Mother Teresa, the film Mother Teresa-In the Name of God's Poor was aired, at prime time, on the Family Channel in the U.S. and several European channels. Lapierre's script has been nominated by the prestigious Humanitas Prize for communicating the best values.

In 1991, Lapierre published another best-seller, Beyond Love, the epic story of the discovery of the AIDS virus. His latest book, A Thousand Suns chronicles the heroes and events that have shaped the life of the author-philanthropist. Published in France, Italy, Spain, India, the United States and the United Kingdom, A Thousand Suns has already been read by over three million readers.