- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Free Press (July 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743227867
- ISBN-13: 978-0743227865
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Road to Hell Paperback – July 1, 2002
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But, that shouldn't keep you from reading this book. In fact, given the current famine in East Africa (2011) it should be a must read for those who want to do good without causing harm.
Unfortunately the narrative is choppy, sometimes hard to follow and deadened by far too many details and scattered pacing. STILL anyone considering going into the field of international development should read this, as should anyone who donates to international aid organizations.
The book is to some extent journalist and fragmented. It looks at the stories of different characters. One Chis Cassidy for instance was an aid worker who headed a project to irrigate some land. He has to battle rampant corruption, the incredibly poor planning of the project and continual attempts to undermine it. In the end despite his talent and passion for the job he fails and the money put into the project is simply lost. Millions and dollars whose only achievement is to enrich some aid workers and government officials. Cassidy is a tragic case and in the end he leaves Africa after one of his children is murdered to warn him off.
The book also looks at how private charity works. How much of it goes to the charity organisation and how little to the target population. What aid that does go to the target population is so poorly distributed it achieves nothing.
The main work of the book is to look at the overall situation in Somalia and the mechanics of aid. The story which was revealed to the public was that due to a war between Somalia and Ethiopia large numbers of ethic Somalias had been forced to flee from their homes and were starving in refugee camps. As a result international agencies sent in huge amounts of food. The author reveals how the crisis was engineered by the then corrupt Somali government. That the numbers of refugees was at all times exaggerated. That the motive of the government in creating the crisis was to be able to steal large amounts of the food aid and to make money out of selling it. That the image of starving refugees was created by photographing children who were victims of dysentery and other diseases rather than facing starvation. How the importation of food distorted the economy and broke apart the relationships which used to keep Somalia to some extent a unified society.
The book is a devestating portrait of how flawed the aid industry is and the sorts of reasons why it is useless. It is also an interesting book to read along side Black Hawk down the recently released popular history of the military adventure which went so badly wrong. This book provides the political background to understand how flawed that entire mission was. A worthwhile book to read but one that it gripping like a novel and hard to put down.
Most recent customer reviews
the subject is one that really interests me and my travels abroad