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Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees Paperback – March 21, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0312425616 ISBN-10: 0312425619 Edition: First Edition

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Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees + On the Margins of the World: The Refugee Experience Today + Refugees in International Relations
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (March 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312425619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312425616
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The intractable, multifaceted problem of people driven from their homes by poverty, violence or persecution is given a human face in this moving survey of the refugee experience. Moorehead, a human rights journalist, refugee aid worker and biographer of Martha Gellhorn, tours a number of refugee milieus, visiting, among others, Liberian refugees in Cairo, Mexican migrants waiting to cross into the United States, Mideastern refugees detained in Australian internment camps and Palestinian refugees still nursing hopes of returning to a homeland they have never seen. She finds that refugees who remain in the Third World—the majority—are preoccupied with the struggle for survival. Those who make it to Western countries face an equally daunting task, caught in a legal limbo between asylum and deportation, forbidden to work, grappling with a strange language, loneliness and a society that views them as alien interlopers. Moorehead draws sympathetic portraits of individual refugees, replete with horror stories of the travails they fled and their precarious but hopeful efforts to build new lives, but also pulls back to examine what she says are the sometimes counterproductive policies of aid organizations and the indifference and callousness of Western governments.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* British writer Moorehead is a superb biographer, most recently of writer of conscience Martha Gellhorn, and a newspaper columnist who has been writing about human rights for 25 years. She now presents a landmark overview of the fate of refugees as millions of people all around the world are either searching for a better life or seeking asylum after surviving persecution, rape, torture, and genocidal massacres. Moorehead begins with an invaluable and eye-opening history of twentieth-century efforts to cope with unprecedented numbers of displaced people--a story of altruism thwarted by bureaucracy, hypocrisy, prejudice, politics, greed, and fear. She then presents clarion portraits of individual refugees whose appalling predicaments searingly define the horrors of today's exodus and exile. Moorehead introduces a suicidal Iranian in a violence-prone detention camp in Australia; a mother "destitute of possibilities" in an impoverished camp in Guinea; a 67-year-old Palestinian who has lived in a refugee camp for 54 years; and starving Liberians in Cairo. Painstaking in her marshaling of facts and unflinching in her reportage, Moorehead purposefully illuminates the suffering endured by refugees and all the travesties, paradoxes, and tragedies engendered by the failure to act on their behalf. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Sophia on October 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is amazing. It is full of so much information. It is a sad book, but it really opens your eyes about how lucky we are to live in the United States of America. This book makes you think twice about how you view refugees, and how hard they work to where they are now. Definitely read this book!
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on August 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book might prove to be a groundbreaker in the world's understanding of refugees and their struggles. Caroline Moorehead interviewed many refugees who have suffered through a myriad of challenges, with coverage of many different refugee environments as well. Some examples include a shipwreck of boat people off of Sicily, Liberians facing discrimination in Cairo, and the warm welcome but lack of opportunity found by some Sudanese in Finland. Moorehead finds that there are many gray areas in the social problems that cause people to leave their home countries and drift into hopeless exile, and the millions of refugees in the world cannot be easily categorized into mere economic opportunists vs. people facing immediate threats of violence or warfare. The most remarkable aspect of this book is the common theme found in the lives of all sorts of refugees, notably the crushing feelings of aimlessness caused by the interminable limbo of asylum procedures, and living a stateless and unwanted existence with no known future improvement.

Moorehead is prone to big statements at times, and borders on melodrama and guilt-tripping when trying to emphasize the human worth of the refugees. This is a problem in the long chapter on the Palestinians especially (though the previous reviewer is advised to see the forest for the trees). Some readers may also wonder about the accuracy of some of the refugee stories described herein. But regardless, the true strength of this book is that Moorehead was most concerned about allowing displaced people to tell their stories, without grandstanding or over-interpretation, and her dismissal of easy answers or big political pronouncements is especially refreshing. Hence, we learn about the continual struggles faced by millions and millions of people around the globe, who do not deserve to be ignored, locked up, or forgotten. [~doomsdayer520~]
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Aragon VINE VOICE on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I just finished _Human Cargo_ and feel torn with my read. It is a depressing, albeit powerful read. Yes, she does make some erroneous statements that others noted including referring to El Cajon as being west of San Diego. It's actually East. She also noted that San Diego and Tijuana could be one city, which is woefully inaccurate. A map would show that she forgot about several cities between the two, even if this was a mere metaphysical type descriptor.

What I'm most troubled with is that the increase in xenophobia and tightening of borderc compounded with the increase of refugees or asylum seekers really paints a sad picture. I'm glad I read it and her audience is definitely a general or lay audience.

The stories about some of the refugees were absolutely haunting. Thankfully, next in my queue is a Baldacci book. I need a lighter read this next go around.
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7 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Gideon E. Isaac on August 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read a few chapters of this book, and it struck me as well written and interesting. But then I got to the chapter on the Palestinians. Here the author talks about the Israeli Haganah lining up Palestinian families and shooting them dead. According to my Dad, who was part of the "Stern Gang", no such thing happened. She talks about other disasters that befell the Palestinians, without giving context. For instance, Kuwait expelled its Palestinian workers, but there was a reason. The Palestinians had welcomed the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. Another disaster was when the Lebanese turned against the Palestinians. There was a reason for that too, the Palestinians had taken charge of the Southern Lebanon area and abused its inhabitants. The author should not be too credulous when talking with refugees.
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