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An Imperfect Offering : Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century Paperback – 29 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada (29 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385660707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385660709
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,454,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

An Imperfect Offering From one of the world's greatest humanitarian activists comes a searing personal memoir that is also an urgent call to confront suffering in all its many forms. Having seen things we hope never to see, confronted suffering, dispassion, and evil we hope never to encounter, James Orbinski still believes in "the good we can be if we so choose." Recounting stories from his own experience, embodied in which are warnings, hope, and lessons in how we can inject humanitarian activity into our lives, "An Imperfect Offering "is invaluable reading for anyone who feels he or she can make a difference.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Other Peoples' Tomorrows 15 May 2008
By Kate Jongbloed - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Just finished Dr. James Orbinski's new book, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action for the 21st Century. For those of you who don't know him, Orbinski is one of Canada's global health heroes. He accepted the Nobel Prize for Doctors Without Borders while he was its international president and has since worked on developing MSF's Access to Essential Medicine's Campaign and establishing Dignitas International, an organization that provides community-based HIV/AIDS treatment in Malawi.

I've heard Orbinski speak a couple of times, including at the Hope in the Balance forum last November. His talks provoke the idea of thoughts and a world view constantly evolving. This makes him especially human, despite his almost super-human committment to justice and health. One of his strongest messages is the world's need to create what he calls "humanitarian space," unobstructed by politics and military. Orbinski's experiences in Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and elsewhere have made clear the problems of military co-option of humanitarian action. The classic example is the dropping of both bombs and food packets within Afghanistan; in several cases children have confused the two and were harmed rather than fed.

Orbinski's book is part memoir, part call to action. He takes the reader through some of the most devastating humanitarian disasters of the past 20-odd years, from the Rwandan Genocide to New York on September 11, 2001, when Orbinski worked in triage at Ground Zero. It struck me that on several occasions Orbinski has had a relationship with the countries he visits beyond their experience of humanitarian emergency, allowing him to describe the harsh differences between the time of acute crisis and normal daily life. For example, he worked in Rwanda doing HIV/AIDS research several years before the start of the 1994 genocide. This element helps him to challenge the perspective of African nations (and other developing countries) as places of perpetual crisis, while at the same time demanding action when that crisis does take place.

Books about global health and its personalities are compelling reads. For some reason they are more successful at keeping me riveted than Tipping Point or The DaVinci Code ever were. Perhaps it is because despite the complexities of humanitarian action that Orbinski describes, the moral action of healing the sick seems so much less ambiguous than the general project of development. However, as he describes his own quest to ask the right questions he deems necessary to improve "other peoples' tomorrows," Orbinski recognizes the political side of humanitarian action, and the need to speak up about what he has witnessed.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I will remember the courage 13 Sept. 2009
By an optimistic young woman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you were like me, you are thinking about reading this book for many reasons. To learn more about Dr. Orbinski, and Doctors without Borders and what they really deal with when they go to the worlds seemingly most hopeless places. I especially wanted to know more of the truth from the genocide in Rwanda, as it first came to my attention in high school and I cannot forget it. I got all of the information I wanted about those things, and some very shocking and illuminating facts they are. This book tells the story of the lives that are cut and strangled by war and hate, and also of the lives that are saved as well. I have done a very small amount of volunteering in a place far away from my home, and that was another reason I wanted to read this amazing book. I think every person who is able should read it too. But I will give one piece of advice, and that is simply that one needs to be prepared to read this book, as it contains the blood, tears and love of many people, and I guarantee that you will not forget them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Very Moving! 27 July 2009
By R. G. Peterson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Wow, I cannot say enough about this book. If you are into Humanitarian action and one person making a difference in this world, you may want to read this book. James Orbinski is such a selfless doctor trying to make a difference in this world. In this book he recalls his memories of some of the biggest Huamitarian missions in our history. This makes me feel even more compelled to help out the helpless in our world. This is a must read!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An imperfect offering 11 Aug. 2013
By Isaac Rodríguez Cázares - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If for Benedict Anderson the concept of nation is an imagined community, for Orbinski humanity is a very real community fraught with a contradiction of empathy and self-destruction, especially along the fault lines of war and civil strife. This book makes an excellent case --that does not explicate but rather illustrates through an autobiographical narrative how human action at the grassroots level can have a significant impact on societal alleviation and amelioration-- for the premise that inclusion, not exclusion is the key to our survival as a species.
Great 29 Dec. 2012
By DAN - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very very good compassionate book. Well written, would recommend to any one and everyone in a minute. Thank you very much. Dan
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