From Publishers Weekly
In 1997, Burnett, apparently bored with his other adventures-which have included working on oil rigs, working on a crab boat in Alaska, skippering a commercial halibut boat, writing for the soap opera Search for Tomorrow-signed up to work in Somalia for the World Food Program. In prose as restrained as his trails were horrific, Burnett recounts his narrow escapes and close calls in a flood-ravaged Somalia ruled by rival warlords. His most harrowing adventures occur when he confronts young children carrying guns who fearlessly threaten and kill others. Yet, Burnett does not quite delve into his own fears, or reveal what real lessons he learned from his year in Somalia. His formulaic style ("The air is thick with the smells of dust, smoke, flowers, sweat, and dung") fails to render the tale of one man's struggle to make a difference in the world either memorable or significant.
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"The narrative sweeps one along … Written like a day-to-day journal, When Soldiers Fear to Tread
offers many thumbnail sketches of natives and relief workers."—Providence Journal
"He understands the mix of altruism, adrenaline, financial reward and companionship that drives many aid workers . . . He sees the way that the various aid agencies (even competing UN agencies) work against each other to gain credit and press exposure. And he learns, through bitter experience, how savage people can be when they are desperate"—London Sunday Times
“A journey into a heartless darkness. . .(An) affecting, timely and engaging memoir of life at the blunt edge of aid."—Evening Standard
“Burnett’s message is simple and it is not new: being an aid worker in the field is dangerous. What makes it different is the clarity and passion with which he delivers it. . . He writes well and convincingly . . . with a minimum of jargon and eye for detail.”—The Sunday Telegraph