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An Imperfect Offering: Dispatches from the medical frontline

An Imperfect Offering: Dispatches from the medical frontline [Kindle Edition]

James Orbinski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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"A searing account of the realities of war and the struggle to bring some humanitarian values and practical help to violent places. And it is written with huge passion...A tale for our times" -- Kate Adie Mail on Sunday "Clarity, compassion and commitment are presented in spades in this book about those who are fighting the lack of political will that too often fails to prevent man's inhumanity to man." L Gen Romeo Dallaire, author of Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda "He tells his extraordinary story in unpretentious, carefully weighed prose" Observer "Fascinating" Daily Mail "James Orbinski has lived for years in the middle of the worst that humans can be, and somehow emerged with both his compassion and his desire to understand us intact...the stories he has to tell are some of the most powerful I have ever read" Stephanie Nolen, author of 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa


Clarity, compassion and commitment are presented in spades in this book about those who are fighting the lack of political will that too often fails to prevent man's inhumanity to man

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational 6 Nov 2009
This book is a compelling read. It is something that everyone (from teens onwards) should read. It presents a view on Genocide that you really don't learn in school or see on the news. The subject matter (troubles in Rwanda, Afganistan etc.) is upsetting but because this book gives a sensitive, human, account of how people try to help other people, the message avoids being overshadowed by gorey content.

James Orbinski is an interesting individual. Reading this book, I have nothing but huge admiration for the people who repeatedly go out to war torn countries to help those caught up in the middle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This was recommended to me by a friend who has a background in humanitarian law. I am from a medical background myself, and had expressed an interest in the work of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), a humanitarian organisation dedicated to providing impartial medical care in conflict zones while eschewing the silent impartiality of organisations such as the International Red Cross. Immediately he told me to read this book. Having done so, I see why. Dr James Orbinski has been involved in MSF for the best part of thirty years. His experiences in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan, DRC and Kosovo form the basis for this book. Exploring the philosophical, political, ethical and medical realities behind modern humanitarianism, he also lifts the lid on the political machinations behind "First World" or "Western" involvement in humanitarian aid delivery, "humanitarian war", and the stark realities on the ground of dealing with the starving, the injured, the soldiers, politicians, and killers. Anyone with an interest in humanitarianism, or indeed modern global politics, should read this book. It refuses to treat the victims of conflict and famine as numbers or "collateral damage", and powerfully evokes the impossible choices humanitarian operatives must make in order to carry out their work. A disturbing, heartbreaking and ultimately inspirational story of how getting involved can make a difference.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible depth of experience 9 Aug 2011
This is an account of the incredible depth of experience one man has of witnessing, and working to alleviate the human tragedies that take place throughout the world. James Orbinski is a humanitarian doctor and, even in the title, you get a taste of the humility and commitment of the man. The book does not make for easy reading. Orbinski often simply describes what he sees of the suffering of others, or the stories his patients relate to him. The simplicity of the text on these occasions - the absence of emotive adjectives -conveys all the more powerfully the individual pain and suffering involved. This is not to say that Orbinski refrains from expressing his own opinion. Far from it. He pulls no punches in communicating his disagreement with certain policies and his view on events. Nor does he remain a detached observer. His communication of his own personal journey - including one fascinating chapter on his formative years - makes the book all the richer. Orbinski asks the question: "How am I to be? How are we to be in relation to the suffering of others?" He gives no easy answers, but the book clearly conveys his belief that to stand by and do nothing is not an option.
If you want to know what it is to work in a war zone and allow yourself to care, then read this book. If not, stay away.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a MSF must 24 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This Book is amazing and about an amazing organization that is not overly known in the UK. I have had the opportunity of working for MSF on a couple of occasions and the work we do makes a difference. It was one of the best experiences in my life and then to read what Orbinski experience is just mind boggling. After reading this book, I ended up with more questions about how the West impacts and our place in the World ... I think you just have to read this book ... There are no words that I can use to explain this book: READ IT!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relevant information 16 July 2011
By D. Tyler - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The writer provides important insight into the mqchinations of the UN and world political powers and how they impact others not always in their best interest. What I do not like is the authors antipathy towards the US while using our money and knowhow. He never explains who is going to underwrite Africas humanitarian needs and why should they when Africans themselves cannot or will not take on their own responsibilities. I'm tired of the US being the patsy for all the ills of the world.
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