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The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur [Kindle Edition]

Daoud Hari
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

I am the translator who has taken journalists into dangerous Darfur. It is my intention now to take you there in this book, if you have the courage to come with me.

The young life of Daoud Hari–his friends call him David–has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure. He is a living witness to the brutal genocide under way in Darfur.

The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing, and deeply moving memoir of how one person has made a difference in the world–an on-the-ground account of one of the biggest stories of our time. Using his high school knowledge of languages as his weapon–while others around him were taking up arms–Daoud Hari has helped inform the world about Darfur.

Hari, a Zaghawa tribesman, grew up in a village in the Darfur region of Sudan. As a child he saw colorful weddings, raced his camels across the desert, and played games in the moonlight after his work was done. In 2003, this traditional life was shattered when helicopter gunships appeared over Darfur’s villages, followed by Sudanese-government-backed militia groups attacking on horseback, raping and murdering citizens and burning villages. Ancient hatreds and greed for natural resources had collided, and the conflagration spread.

Though Hari’s village was attacked and destroyedhis family decimated and dispersed, he himself escaped. Roaming the battlefield deserts on camels, he and a group of his friends helped survivors find food, water, and the way to safety. When international aid groups and reporters arrived, Hari offered his services as a translator and guide. In doing so, he risked his life again and again, for the government of Sudan had outlawed journalists in the region, and death was the punishment for those who aided the “foreign spies.” And then, inevitably, his luck ran out and he was captured. . . .

The Translator tells the remarkable story of a man who came face-to-face with genocide– time and again risking his own life to fight injustice and save his people.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. "Unique," a word avoided by most journalists, is just the first to describe this heart-stopping memoir, written by a native Darfuri translator who, after escaping the massacre of his village by the genocidal Janjaweed, returned to work with reporters and UN investigators in the riskiest of situations. Taking readers far from their comfort zones, Hari charts the horrific landscape of genocide in the stories of refugee camp survivors: "It is interesting how many ways there are for people to be hurt and killed, and for villages to be terrorized and burned... I would say that these ways to die and suffer are unspeakable, and yet they were spoken: we interviewed 1,134 human beings over the next weeks." Danger is rampant, especially at border crossings, and the effect on outsiders is profound: "Some of the BBC people had to return to Chad, where they were in a medical clinic for three days to recover from what they saw, and smelled, and learned." Homey facts about the loyalty of camels, the pecking order in villages and vast family networks bring respite from more dire tales, including Hari's long, multi-site imprisonment with a U.S. journalist and their Chadian driver. The captives' endurance through uncertainty and torture is unbelievable, and their eventual rescue reads like James Bond by way of boldface politicos like recent presidential contender Bill Richardson. Throughout, Hari demonstrates almost incomprehensible decency; those with the courage to join Hari's odyssey may find this a life-changing read. A helpful appendix provides a primer on the Darfur situation.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Daoud, a Zaghawa tribesman in northern Darfur, fled his village, which was under attack by Sudanese militiamen, in 2003. His brother was killed and his family driven into exile across Sudan. Lamenting the demise of old traditions that called for the settlement of disputes among ethnic groups with peaceable dinners in one another’s homes, Daoud fought back in his efforts as a translator to help document the carnage in his native land. In this first-person account, Daoud recalls imprisonment in Egypt, suffering in refugee camps, and efforts by ordinary Sudanese to hold onto families and hope in the face of genocide. Daoud worked as a translator for a British filmmaker and for award-winning reporters with the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and BBC. As a translator for UN investigators of genocide, Daoud listened to stories told slowly and quietly, feeling emotions the tellers dared not let themselves feel. Daoud writes beautifully and simply, offering insight, relaying the analysis of the reporters he worked with, and demonstrating the power of a man emotionally vested in the story being told. --Vanessa Bush

Product Details

  • File Size: 190 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400067448
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (March 18, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015KGX8W
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,367 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Translator March 18, 2008
Format:Hardcover
There are a number of compelling memoirs by Sudanese authors such as They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky (2005), What Is the What (2006), and at least 4 more by or about "The Lost Boys" of southern Sudan. As the conflict has moved north and west, like birds flying before the storm, we are now seeing a new wave of heartbreaking memoirs arriving from the Darfur region. Each story is as unique as the person telling it, and all offer a glimpse into a world few know about because western journalists have so much difficulty working in the country, thus making this first-hand narrative by a native Darfurian a unique and important source.

As a young man Daoud Hari witnessed the destruction of his idyllic rural village by modern Russian-made helicopter gunships and, like the logs of a raft breaking apart in the rapids, he and his family spun off in many harrowing directions. Hari decided early on that he would "use his brains and not a gun to make a better life" for himself. After arriving at a refugee camp in Chad, his skill at languages allowed him to work as a translator and guide for westerners on fact-finding trips across the border into Darfur. On about his 7th trip in August 2006 he became embroiled in an international incident with kidnapped National Geographic journalist Paul Salopek, making headlines around the world. Through the help of friends Hari was able to get out of Sudanese jail and move to the United States, where he now works for SaveDarfur.Org

Hari's easy to read book is an excellent entry point for learning about the Darfur conflict.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple... powerful.. life changing... April 24, 2008
Format:Hardcover
I was hesitant to purchase this book because the writing seemed very simple as I skimmed the book in the bookstore; however, it is this simple prose that empowers the journey you take with the author. From the opening story of his life being saved by a Journalist to the closing account of the torture and eventual freedom granted to him (don't worry, this doesn't reveal a surprise ending - after all, he did write the book), you feel that you are being told a story in the simple traditional form of an African tribal legend. Sadly, this is no legend!

When I read about the little girl killed by a soldier in a horrific way, I wept. When I read Daoud's commentary on why Darfur marriages last so long (they sleep separately), I laughed. What struck me was how much this man and his family has suffered and, yet, he laughs. He can teach us much about suffering and the ability to continue to believe and hope.

The more important part of the stories, however, is the part that should make us scream for change in the way we have dealt with this genocide and others like it. It's time to take faster action. When we have to wait until there are over 1000 stories to be heard (in order to decide if it is genocide), there's something VERY wrong with our process.

The author makes you feel like you've walked the sandy world in which he grew up. You feel as if you've ridden a camel, pushed a Land Rover out of a ditch, survived a beating and crossed borders illegally for the sake of human life. Why? Because he tells the story in very simple English, which makes you feel your hearing about it all from a child's mind. You connect with the story much as a child envisions she is in a traditional fairy tale. Very powerful!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Unfortunately, the only thing that 99.999% of the world associates with the word "Darfur" is death, hate and tragedy. Daoud Hari's small memoir reminds the reader that Darfur was once home to millions - a place of family, friend, play and work.

That is the strongest asset of this short work - it puts a human face on a large tragedy. Written in simple, elegant English and with a wry sense of humor ("Most people like me, are tall - I am six feet - and are also a little thin because of all the walking, the hard work and the dieting that is one of the many advantages of poverty."[p. 108]), this book is an extension of Hari's way of fighting back against the forces that are destroying Darfur. Rather than taking up arms, Hari decided to expose Darfur to the world by escorting journalists from Chad into Darfur in Sudan.

This was not a choice for the faint of heart. Journalists and their guides were considered to be spies by the government of Sudan. Hari and his journalists were exposed to gunfire, captured multiple times and eventually one group was captured, tortured and eventually released through the efforts of former presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Before reading the book, I suggest reading "Appendix 1: A Darfur Primer" at the end of the text. It helps give his story some context.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Book! A Remarkable Man! March 25, 2008
Format:Hardcover
In the modern Western world, vivid documentary photojournalism plays an important role in how we world learn about major world events. However, when the story is genocide, the visual record can be so horrific that most people instinctually flinch and turn away, unable to bear the sight of so much human suffering. Croatia, Rwanda, Darfur--we are bombarded by harrowing nightmarish images.

It is easy to see why most people might not want to read a book about genocide. But they fail to realize that books work on the brain in an entirely different manner than images. A well-conceived book can promote understanding and provoke action. Take "The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur" by Daoud Hari as an example. Readers would be making a grave mistake if they turned away from this powerful and unforgettable memoir. This book is more than a recounting of genocide. It is a fierce story of heroism and survival--it is also a loving lament to a culture and people on the brink of extinction.

This book is definitely not what you might expect. There are no indictments against the international community's indifference. There is no anger--no blame. Instead, there is a calm heartfelt recounting of three years in the life of one tribesman working as a translator for Western journalist covering the story of war-torn Darfur. The years covered are 2003 through 2006. During this period, the author took immense risks to lead first a team of UN genocide investigators, and then six separate teams of Western journalists into dangerous war-torn Darfur. That he has come out of these ordeals alive is a miracle.

Daoud Hari tells an incredible story! For the last one-third of the book, I found myself gripping the book, unable to tear myself away before knew what happened.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I really like the story told. You could picture every step.
Published 1 month ago by Anita
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb account of the early years of the Darfur crisis
Occasionally shocking but riveting and highly readable personal account of the scandal called Darfur by Daoud, a Zaghawa, an ethnic group straddling the border between Sudan and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alfred J. Kwak
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
AWESOME AS ORDERED!
Published 4 months ago by Carla R. Weiss
2.0 out of 5 stars I do not recommend this book
I'm a student reading this book for a project. The book speaks of an important contemporary issue, yet there is significant distortion in facts and numbers in this book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nikolai Brusilov
3.0 out of 5 stars An eye witness of how Islam is destroying Christianity in Africa
A chilling story that documents the continuing struggle of Islam to destroy all of Christianity in Africa. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jan
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read...
This book told in a plainspoken way, which really lets the reader get into Hari's Journey from and back to his homeland of Dafur on the western side of Sudan, his people are called... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Lachula
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book in Good Condition
This book was in great condition minus the book jacket. Great price for one of my son's summer reading books. Amazing story that teaches about the horrible conditions in Darfur.
Published 15 months ago by C. Fasciana
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly gorgeous book & author
I think this is the 11th copy I bought--for friends.
I loved it, the author, his writing, his soul--and it includes a handy appendix at the end which clearly explains the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Patricia Kimball
5.0 out of 5 stars Book review
Book was as promised and delivery was timely. This was needed for summer reading for honors English. Glad it was in good condition and delivered on time. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Ann K.
5.0 out of 5 stars It Will Hurt You to Read This. But Please Do.
This book of murders begins with: "I know most people want others to have good lives and ... will do what they can to steer the world back toward kindness. Read more
Published 18 months ago by VerbRiver
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