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Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad Paperback – March 15, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1ST edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688172377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688172374
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

By age 6, Waris Dirie was herding her family's sheep and goats, fending off hyenas and wild dogs as the family carved a path through Africa. She was just twice that age when she ran off into the vast furnace of the Somali desert to escape an arranged marriage to a much older man. Traveling for days without food and water, she made her way to Mogadishu and later to London as a servant to her uncle, the Somalian ambassador. There she wrestled with culture shock and got her first taste of the modeling life that eventually brought her into the public eye. Dirie is resilient, having survived drought, hunger, and the ritual female genital mutilation that marks a step toward womanhood among some traditional Moslems but, argue critics, steals or ruins many girls' lives. "As we traveled throughout Somalia," says Dirie, "we met families and I played with their daughters. When we visited them again, the girls were missing. No one spoke the truth about their absence or even spoke of them at all." As a special ambassador to the United Nations, Dirie has spoken out loudly on this subject and championed environmental causes, too. How much of her sometimes breathless story is gospel truth and how much embellished is hard to say. Like Dirie herself, though, the combination is intriguing, powerful, and unique. --Francesca Coltrera --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Joining the current rage for model memoirs (see review above) is Dirie, a native of Somalia, who has for more than a decade stalked the world's catwalks and appeared in numerous glossy magazines. This, however, is no fluff-job dictated into a tape recorder on transatlantic flights, then recomposed by a hired gun back in New York. Rather, it is a striking account of a personal odyssey that began in the Somali desert, where Dirie grew up without shoes, living amid nomadic tribes and tyrannized by patriarchal strictures. As a pubescent girl, Dirie was circumcised?a procedure described here in chilling detail?before escaping an arranged marriage to stay with an aunt in Mogadishu. Landing a job as a house servant in London, Dirie struggled to launch a modeling career while dodging British immigration authorities and the dreadful results of marriages of convenience. At the end of this affecting and at times very entertaining book, Dirie's metamorphosis from desert nomad into jetsetting nomad culminates in a post as a human rights ambassador to the UN, where, these days, Dirie campaigns for the eradication of female circumcision and women's rights around the globe. It's easy to forget that Dirie's memoir is a book about someone whose success has come from posing for the camera. Indeed, it is Dirie's remarkable lack of narcissism or entitlement that makes her so captivating a raconteur. Photos. Editor: Billy Kelly; agent: Christie Fletcher/Carol Mann Agency; author tour. (Sept.) FYI: Foreign rights have sold in 10 countries.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Amazing life story!
Waris has such a strong spirit as she overcomes unimaginable obstacles.
Joan Weisenbeck
This book grabbed me from the first page, and I could not put it down!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Waris Dirie is from Somalia, home of some of the most beautiful women in the world, many of whom become supermodels like the famous Iman and Dirie herself. This book is a story of her desert semi-nomad life, the story of the horrifying practice of Pharonic circumcision of women that she suffered, and Dirie's escape from several oppressive situations ultimately to a better life.
The practice of female circumcision or FGM (female genital multilation) is not well-understood by Europeans and Americans. The practice, though not ordained by the Koran, is common in parts of Islamic Africa. It may have had tribal origins before some of the lands became Islamic. Dirie gives a blunt description of the primitive practice that leads to the death of many girls and to constant pain and suffering for those who survive it.
In addition to the story of FGM, Dirie also tells how she escaped her engagment to a man she didn't know, how she got to London to live with relatives, only to escape virtual enslavement and ended up working at a MacDonalds. From there, fame and success.
This book is written well, in a plain but well-told style. In addition to enlightening people about FGM, it tells a story of great courage.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A .J. Casper on June 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
It naturally just goes to your heart. The language is simple and honest, so you can read the book in a day or two. Her story was just remarkable and the book was well-written. People should be made aware of FGM and its effects. They should know that it exists. I particularly liked the way she ended the book. She says that if the existance of FGM has any meaningful explanation, maybe she would think twice about denouncing it...but this practice has no significant reason to exist what so ever! There were, however, too many "In Africa..." generalizations in the book. FGM is not ubiquitous in Africa, in fact, most Africans don't even know that it's there. It is just concentrated mainly in East African countries like Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Djibouti, and some areas in West Africa like Mali for example. I loved the book. Everyone should read it!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nse Ette TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Desert Flower is the powerful story of the life of Somali supermodel Waris Dirie, who is now a UN spokesperson campaigning against female genital mutilation.

It starts from her very humble, but happy beginnings tending sheep and goats, her horrific circumcision at age 5, her running away from home to escape an arranged marriage to a geriatric at age 12, through to her getting to London and stumbling into modeling quite by accident.

Along the way, there were lots of events and signs in her life to tell her there was a bigger purpose to her life. Like her being spared from a lion in the desert.

There is also lots of fun and humour; Her naiveté on seeing modern everyday utilities, her bumping into Iman and a young unknown insecure Naomi Campbell, her being a Donna Summer fan and flubbing her lines on the TV show Soul Train.

Her finding love, the birth of her precious son, and her eventual reunion with her mother.

Oh, there are loads of stunning photos too, she is a supermodel after all.

Through all the pain and hardship in her life, she came through strong and not bitter against those who mistreated her. A real class act and an inspiration.

Desert Flower is a stunning and moving story which everyone should read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christine Ripperger on November 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book has opened up a whole new world to me. I have read both of Waris's books. There are ways of life and cultures that I have never heard of before. This woman had an amazing struggle just to live. The pain of FGM when she was 5, Having to run away beacause your father wanted to sell you into marriage for 3 camels! This is real, people live like this. Waris went from being a desert nomad to being a model in the western world. Talk about culture shock. Hers is an incredibe story about life and love and the struggles we face. After reading Her books I was so interested that I went on to read "Do They Hear You When You Cry" and "Western Dress Bound Feet" I became so incensed that I continued not only to read more about this type of subject matter, but I also joined Equality Now and am trying to inform my peers of situations other than where we live. I would recommend this book and any like it to everyone and anyone. Read about the world and learn
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lauren A. VINE VOICE on June 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the autobiography of Waris Dirie, an international supermodel. Waris grew up as part of a nomadic tribe in Somalia that still practices female circumcision, sleeps outdoors, subsists on camels milk, and marries off young girls at 12 or 13 to much older men. It was very interesting to read about her experiences as a child because her upbringing was the same as the upbringing of children 1000 years ago in Somalia. Waris' description of her circumcision and the problems she experienced afterward were poignant and terrifying.

Waris clearly has a good sense of humor. It is interesting to read her perspectives first of Mogadishu and then of London. It is fascinating to hear about how she became a model. Unfortunately, the book degenerated in the second half. Waris becomes conceited and less likeable. She also seems a bit selfish in her behaviors towards her friends.

This book was a good read because of the first half but the last hundred pages was a big disappointment.
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