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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2010
Over winter break, I read a book entitled Six Months in Sudan, by Dr. James Maskalyk. I am a Field Partner of Doctors without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), and was introduced to this book via Dr. Maskalyk's blog on their site. I am grateful that I learned of it, and that I had the opportunity to read through the memoirs of this caring physician.

Six Months in Sudan isn't a book written in a formal style with proper grammer and formatting throughout. Instead, it contains the honest memoirs of a Canadian emergency medicine physician who recorded his thoughts and experiences of serving in Sudan while they were still fresh and raw in his mind. It is a collection of memories, experiences, and emotions. He wrote while angry, depressed, anxious, and grieving. He discusses intimate moments and shocking injuries. He holds nothing back as he bares even his most private thoughts prior to his departure and during his term. He also discusses the isolation that he felt upon his return. This is, perhaps, the most honest book I've ever read.

It isn't a difficult read, and it is the kind of book that you don't want to put down once you've begun reading. If you're interested in medicine, public health, international affairs, or policy, you'll definitely appreciate this book. Even if you're not, you probably will. Beware, however, as this book is not edited for content that may make you realize that you take the comforts of your life for granted. It made me realize that I do so, and that the hardships I experience really are petty as compared to those of others throughout the world.

When you purchase Six Months in Sudan, Dr. Maskalyk donates a portion of the proceeds to Doctors without Borders and to a fund that will help students from Abyei, Sudan to access education, if the schools there are ever rebuilt.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2009
Many thanks to Dr. Maskalyk for going to Sudan and for writing about it. This is a moving and troubling account of life without the many safety nets that hold us. Clean water, reliable electricity, access to medical care, more food than we need, education--these are all sorely lacking in Abyei. Dr. Maskalyk shares what he sees and experiences, and by omission, how troubling what he witnesses is to his soul. I couldn't put this book down and am so grateful for the opportunity to learn about a part of the world I knew very little about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2012
I feel as though I have been waiting for this book my entire adult life. Maskalyk answered so many questions for me about what type of person can do this work and wether they remain untouched, intact afterwards. I liked that the author approaches his writting task responsibly knowing that people like myself will be reading it. I appreciate that he holds himself accountable in that manner. I love that he offers his reader a play by play view of what is happening and how he is or isn't dealing with it at the time. I love that he offers up and accepts the experience for what it is without too much analyzing. And above all, I love that it did affect him and that he took the time to humanize himself again and reflect upon his regrets so that he could share this experience. Beautifully writen, moving and unforgettable
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2009
This book took me on a daily basis to somewhere I could never visit, facing hardships and losses that would overwhelm me. But, he did so in an honest way that forced me ,in my comfortable existence, to face and embrace the daily struggles of those in Sudan.
Dr. James and his team, and some Sudanese patients felt like friends by the end of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Have you ever heard of Abyei? Probably not. I sure didn't before I read this book. It's in Sudan, and it's where the author spent six months as part of the Doctors Without Borders program (MSF).

After completing residency, Maskalyk signs up for a stint in the MSF. He is taken to Sudan, to the village of Abyei which houses many soldiers and civilians and plenty of people needing medical attention. The hospital is small, but large enough to take traumas and between the diseases that run rampant in the area and the skirmishes with grenades, there is always someone to be healed.

Maskalyk is pretty rough on himself. And others at times, although it seems he has nothing but respect for his colleagues. In fact, he speaks better of them than he does himself. He seems to acknowledge that he has a detachment from his work and the pain and suffering around him. That he can't help but think of logical things even if a person has died. And it does seem cold. But it can also be a coping mechanism for everything that he has to see. I did find his honesty refreshing though and I wouldn't paint him a hero because of his thoughts, but do think that he did some good work while in Sudan.

This is a hard book to read because of the descriptions of suffering and illness and poverty. Because it's real life it shakes you to find out how people are living when sometimes the worse thing in your day is spilling your drink on yourself. It does offer perspective. And I like how he focused on being a new aid worker as most of the books I've read are from people who have been in a long time. The writing itself was good, although I found the epilogue disorienting. I understand he was showing his confusion at being home through that writing style, but I just found it hard to read. Otherwise the format was good and the rest of the book flowed easy enough.

Do I want to go to Sudan? Probably not. But I'm still thinking that this line of work is appealing and I'll continue to read about it. I'm glad I found this book to offer another perspective.

Six Months in Sudan
Copyright 2009
320 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2014
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2013
I enjoyed this story very much. Six Months in South Sudan is a tell-all account of what it is like to live and work in a humanitarian emergency. I found the book very riveting - I actually left it on a plane (ironically, on my way back from South Sudan) and re-bought the kindle version so I could finish it because I could not be left wondering how it would end! As a somewhat new aid worker myself, I could relate to this book and the situation, however I found it very informative about life in the field (providing an often sobering view of what it is really like) and the Abyei region and took with it many lessons that I myself can take to the field - as well as information about the South Sudan in general. Many thanks to Dr. Maskalyk for writing such a wonderful book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
If you love reading about real experiences in Africa, then you will enjoy this book. The author uses modern syntax, and it is written like a blog. As a medical person, myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The imagery is unbelievably real. Well done....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2013
Book in pristine condition. Written by Canadian volunteer with of his experiences as a doctor with Médecins san Frontières in Darfur. He gave a very engaging interview on CBC radio so purchased book for niece who has volunteered with NGO in Sudan.
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on July 13, 2010
An unsentimental account of a young doctor's experience and psychological memoir as a volunteer in Sudan with MSF. What moved me was his account of how small and seemingly unending and fruitless yet absolutely necessary the work of the NGOs and volunteers are, and how more of us must awaken to our obligation to engage at that level despite (or because of) the toll it would exact on us. Maskalyk spells out eloquently the price and obligations of being a part of humanity.
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on February 25, 2014
What admiration I have for these doc. If we only had more people like this, all over the world. One person can make a tremendous difference. And what a little amount of money it would cost to wipe out some of these diseases.
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