40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur (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. A nine-page Appendix called "A Darfur Primer" is, the author says, what any Darfurian in a bar would know about their own history. Hari's book contains the most complete version yet of Pulitzer-Prize winning Paul Salopek's 2006 harrowing kidnapping ordeal, taking up nearly the last third of the book; Salopek has not yet published an account, he was severely beaten and almost died (a fate nearly shared by Hari). Hari tells us about the unintended consequences of the Iraq War, saying "Torture was the popular new thing because Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were everywhere in the news at that time, and crazy men like this were now getting permission to be crazy." Finally, Hari is perhaps most remarkable for never loosing his humanity despite the horror around him, reminding the reader "loosing a baby is hard. It doesn't matter where in the world you live for that." This is a wonderful memoir, intelligent, thrilling, educational, recommend highly.