Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a War Zone

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It’s the early 1990s and three young people are looking to change their lives, and perhaps also the world. Attracted to the ambitious global peacekeeping work of the UN, Andrew, Ken and Heidi’s paths cross in Cambodia, from where their fates are to become inextricably bound.Over the coming years, their stories interweave through countries such as Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti – war-torn, lawless places where the intervention of the UN is needed like nowhere else. Driven by idealism, the three struggle to do the best they can, caught up in an increasingly tangled web of bureaucracy and ineffectual leadership. As disillusionment sets in, they attempt to keep hold of their humanity through black humour, revelry and ’emergency sex’.
Brutal and moving in equal measure, Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures) explores pressing global issues while never losing a sense of the personal. Deeply critical of the West’s indifference to developing countries and the UN’s repeated failure to intervene decisively, the book provoked massive controversy on its initial publication. Kofi Annan called for the book to be banned, and debate was sparked about the future direction of the UN. Brilliantly written and mordantly funny, it is a book that continues to make waves.

Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a War Zone

River Of Time by Jon Swain

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Jon Swain left Britain as a teenager. After a brief stint with the French Foreign Legion he became a journalist in Paris, but soon ended up in Vietnam and Cambodia. In five years as a young war reporter Swain lived moments of intensity and passion such as he had never known. He learnt something of life and death in Cambodia and Vietnam that he could never have perceived in Europe. He saw Indo-China in all its intoxicating beauty and saw, too, the violence and corruption of war, and was sickened by it.
Motivated by a sense of close involvement with the Cambodian people he went back into Phnom Penh just before the fall of the city to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975. He was captured and was going to be executed. His life was saved by Dith Pran, the New York Times interpreter, a story told by the film The Killing Fields. In Indo-China Swain formed a passionate love affair with a French-Vietnamese girl. The demands of a war correspondent ran roughshod over his personal life and the relationship ended.
This book is one reporter’s attempt to make peace with a tumultuous past, to come to terms with his memories of fear, pain, and death, and to say adieu to the Indo-China he loved and the way of life that has gone for ever.

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Balkan Ghosts by Robert Kaplan

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From the assassination that set off World War I to the ethnic warfare sweeping Bosnia and Croatia, the Balkans have been the crucible of the 20th century–the place where terrorism and genocide were first practiced as tools of policy. This enthralling political travelogue helps us understand that region’s anguish.

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Survival in the Killing Fields by Haing S. Ngor

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Best known for his academt award-winning role as Dith Pran in “The Killing Fields”, for Haing Ngor his greatest performance was not in Hollywood but in the rice paddies and labour camps of war-torn Cambodia. Here, in his memoir of life under the Khmer Rouge, is a searing account of a country’s descent into hell. His was a world of war slaves and execution squads, of senseless brutality and mind-numbing torture; where families ceased to be and only a very special love could soar above the squalor, starvation and disease. An eyewitness account of the real killing fields by an extraordinary survivor, this book is a reminder of the horrors of war – and a testament to the enduring human spirit.

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Bay of Tigers: A Journey Through War-torn Angola by Pedro Rosa Mendes

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An extraordinary account of Pedro Rosa Mendes’s journey across Africa in 1997 – 6000 miles from the west to the east coast, from Angola to Mozambique – on trains with no windows, no doors, no seats, on wrecks of trucks and buses, on boats and motorcycles. In war-torn Angola, a country where the landmines outnumber the people, Mendes finds long lines of villagers waiting for shock treatment to neutralize the phantom pain in amputated limbs, an apothecary’s tent purveying boiled mucumbi bark to combat scurvy lesions in the mouth, and trains crowded with people eating salted fish and drinking beer, swapping tales of local sorcerers who can turn into snakes. He interviews international relief workers and corrupt local officials, widows and orphans, soldiers and survivors, piecing together a rich portrait no history or travel book can match.

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The Key To My Neighbours House by Elizabeth Neuffer

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From her unique vantage point as a reporter directly covering the reality and aftermath of genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, award-winning journalist Elizabeth Neuffer tells the compelling story of two parallel journeys toward justice in each country – that of the international war crime tribunals, and that of the people left behind. In a book packed with devastating stories, including those of victims and perpetrators, forensic experts and tribunal judges, two provide the double backbone of the book’s narrative: Hasan Nuhanovic, a Bosnian muslim whose determination to discover the fate of his family lost at Srebrenica sees him mature over the years from a gangling youth to a man with the authority to testify before Congress; and Witness JJ, a Tutsi woman of staggering courage who overcomes her modesty and the dictates of her culture to testify about the rapes that are classified as war crimes.

Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure Of Humanity In Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire

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When Lt. General Rom-o Dallaire received the call to serve as force commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, he thought he was heading off to Africa to help two warring parties achieve a peace both sides wanted. Instead, he and members of his small international force were caught up in a vortex of civil war and genocide. Dallaire left Rwanda a broken man, disillusioned, suicidal, and determined to tell his story. An award-winning international sensation, Shake Hands with the Devil is a landmark contribution to the literature of war: a remarkable tale of a soldier’s courage and an unforgettable portrait of modern war. It is also a stinging indictment of the petty bureaucrats who refused to give Dallaire the men and the operational freedom he needed to stop the killing. ‘I know there is a God,’ Dallaire writes, ‘because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God.’
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The Bookseller Of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad

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Two weeks after September 11th, award-winning journalist Åsne Seierstad went to Afghanistan to report on the conflict there. In the following spring she returned to live with an Afghan family for several months. For more than twenty years Sultan Khan defied the authorities – be they communist or Taliban – to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the communists and watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. He even resorted to hiding most of his stock in attics all over Kabul. But while Khan is passionate in his love of books and hatred of censorship, he is also a committed Muslim with strict views on family life. As an outsider, Seierstad is able to move between the private world of the women – including Khan’s two wives – and the more public lives of the men. And so we learn of proposals and marriages, suppression and abuse of power, crime and punishment. The result is a gripping and moving portrait of a family, and a clear-eyed assessment of a country struggling to free itself from history.
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The Zanzibar Chest: A Memoir Of Love And War by Aidan Hartley

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A deeply affecting memoir of a childhood in Africa and the continent’s horrendous wars, which Hartley witnessed at first hand as a journalist in the 1990s. Shortlisted for the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction, this is a masterpiece of autobiographical journalism.
Aidan Hartley, a foreign correspondent, burned-out from the horror of covering the terrifying micro wars of the 1990s, from Rwanda to Bosnia, seeks solace and solitude in the remote mountains and deserts of southern Arabia and the Yemen, following his father’s death. While there, he finds himself on the trail of the tragic story of an old friend of his father’s, who fell in love and was murdered in southern Arabia fifty years ago. As the terrible events of the past unfold, Hartley finds his own kind of deliverance.
‘The Zanzibar Chest’ is a powerful story about a man witnessing and confronting extreme violence and being broken down by it, and of a son trying to come to terms with the death of a father whom he also saw as his best friend. It charts not only a love affair between two people, but also the British love affair with Arabia and the vast emptinesses of the desert, which become a fitting metaphor for the emotional and spiritual condition in which Hartley finds himself.
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