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

Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a War Zone [Kindle Edition]

Kenneth Cain , Heidi Postlewait , Andrew Thomson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Heart wrenching stuff" (Metro)

"A riveting read that vividly dramatises the many contradictions of the world it moves through" (Guardian)

"Vividly told, this book is all the more engaging because its perspective is personal before it is political" (Daily Mail)

"As wonderfully written as it is controversial ... impossible to put down" (Sunday Telegraph)

"This is in every sense a hell of a good book, a powerful testament of the limits of peacekeeping in today's war zone - acutely observed, and told with astonishing immediacy" (Philip Gourevitch,author of WE WISH TO INFORM YOU THAT TOMORROW WE WILL BE KILLED WITH OUR FAMILIES)

Book Description

Set in the world's most hostile war zones, this is the powerful and utterly unforgettable memoir of three United Nations workers' struggle to make a difference

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 769 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (31 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgence galore 6 Feb 2012
My first recommendation is to read the other reviews, especially those who gave this book three or fewer stars. These give a good balance to the more enthusiastic five-star reviews.

As many other reviewers have spelled out the thread and content of 'Emergency Sex...', I won't waste anymore space on that. Instead, I'll cut to the strengths and weaknesses of the book. On the plus side, it gives a reasonable inside account of the 'nineties, the decade in which humanitarian interventionism commenced in earnest, when the UN was riding high, and to which end the humanitarian business was booming - the UN created so many professional staff in this period, especially off the back of Bosnia, that they have been over-staffed for years as a result (not so easy to get people `out' once `in'). The decade that ended with the distasteful sight of 200+ NGOs lined up and raring to enter Kosovo in June 1999.

Of the three authors, the Kiwi doctor, Andrew, is the most worthwhile - as a medical doctor he actually has the most to offer in real, practical help; Harvard graduate Ken seems pushy, yet naïve or perhaps an unwitting zealot for the new world order, something perhaps heading towards the 'Quiet American' of Graham Greene. Social worker Heidi, doesn't really have many redeeming features, other than a bit of pluck. In her rush to be different from the models that occupy her soon-to-be ex-husband's fashion industry world, she reveals her own vanities, as do her predictable sexual encounters. And so we continue in that vein.

The book starts well enough, and the device of alternating input from all three works best in Cambodia, where they first meet. I agree with the reviewer who said it felt as if the whole book had been written up by Ken.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and realistic 4 July 2007
By A. Gibb
Having sent some time in some of these places during my Air Force days I was interesed to see a different perspective of these places. This book is not only gritty but honest and even when times seem boring this only punctuates the frustration and fear felt when times you thought things could not get worse, they do. As the entries (this is written in a journal style) continue you are drawn into the small group and begin to genuinely care about them.
Some of the atrocities recorded here are hard to stomach but have to read so that even when you are safe and comfortable at home you can appreciate that because you can't see evil in the world, it doesn't mean it's not there. This book is proof that there are good people who care but are constantly having their hands tied by those who just don't want to look bad.
Read it, read it, read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally charged, frank and eye-opening 9 Oct 2009
By B. Nunn
It is a shame that this book was titled "Emergency Sex...", obviously it was just a publicity stunt in order to shift more copies because the outlandish nature of the title does not translate directly to the text. I do not deny however that the book is outlandish, the outlandishness stems from it's brutal honesty and humanistic nature, not from any crudities that the title may imply.

Anyone who has ever thought something about the UN, it's peacekeeping missions or the export of democracy should read this book before they come to any conclusions about any of these things, whichever ideological position they come from. The frank story-telling of the three protagonists reveals the failings of the UN on all three accounts and brings a human face to the UN. Personally having done research on the UN you could probably learn more from this book than you could spending a whole day searching the UN databases and experience a far more honest approach to the workings of the UN.

The premise of the book is that the three main writers start working for the UN, one for money, the others on a save-the-world crusade. They describe their work as they join UN missions across the world in Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti and in the Balkans. Although the work is titled "Emergency Sex..." as discussed this probably doesn't accurately cover the futility of the work they conduct, whether it be knee-high in dead bodies from genocide, the blatant corruption of local officials or the death of a colleague, the book is very emotionally charged- perhaps it is the fact that the work is written by 'real-people' that the book can break down the barriers which distance you from the text on the page.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please read this book 3 April 2005
I implore everyone to read this book which details the horrendously corrupt ineffectuality of the United Nations who stood by when massacres were taking place in Rwanda, Srebenica and Darfur.
One of the co-authors, Dr Andrew Thomson, wrote a line in the book that has led to his dismissal, as reported recently in the Sunday Observer by Andrew Thomson (another of the book's authors), Thomson was lamenting UN negligence in failing Bosnian Muslims who it had promised to protect in its 'safe area' of Srebrenica where 8,000 men lost their lives. Thomson wrote, 'If blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers show up in your town or village and offer to protect you, run. Or else get weapons. Your lives are worth so much less than theirs.'
The UN leader Kofi Annan has had an easy ride from Left wing liberals who read constant uncritical accounts of his leadership in progressive newspapers like the Guardian. It is the job of the concerned and the commited of the left to construct real critiques of the UN before the right wing in America and England come to colonise the moral high ground on this issue.
Despite being reigned in by the dictats of the security council Annan has personally overseen the systematic corruption of his organisation in oil for food and sex for food scandals.
In a recent article Cain tells of his trip to the Rwanda genocide museum in Kigali where there is a reproduction of the infamous fax sent by UN commander General Romeo Dallaire imploring the then head of UN peacekeeping, Annan, for authority to defend civilians being slaughtered in their thousands. The museum also reproduces Annan's response, ordering only the defence of the UN's impartiality, forbidding him to protect desperate civillians waiting to die.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars famine and pestilence fun. It really is moving reading about idealists...
Thoroughly entertaining read. Sometimes really gut wrenching ; you can't make war, famine and pestilence fun. Read more
Published 1 month ago by bibliophile
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging read....
It's informative as to the passions, trials and nightmares that face humanitarian workers during emergencies. It's an engaging and well written book.
Published 6 months ago by kendall
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Read
This is our book club book - I am now looking forward to the discussion it brings. Captivating read. Well written
Published 10 months ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I was recommended this book and it is an eye opener to what went on and is a really good read. I recommend reading.
Published 15 months ago by MJ123
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and shocking
Really enjoyed this book - based on real events in the early 1990s in Cambodia, Haiti, Somalia, we experience the intertwining lives of 3 UN workers. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Will Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Honest account of the experience of 3 young people working for the UN and international organisations in the field in the 90s. A page turner and quick read.
Published 18 months ago by Hannah23
4.0 out of 5 stars An honest account of humanitarian work
A definite page turner and very honest confession of the challenges and deceptions of humanitarian work. Very well written and easy to get into. Recommend!
Published 19 months ago by N.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must
This is a must read for anyone who has spent time in Aid or Development work.
It is well written and very true to fact. It really tells it how it was.
Published 20 months ago by Carmel Bradwell
5.0 out of 5 stars great read!
Really solid read, very entertaining and some pretty heavy stuff in it. I had a hard time reading some parts and it has made me look at aid work in a whole new light.
Published 20 months ago by Justin L
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone interested in humanitariand aid work and theire...
This book is so very well written and it taks a very interesting turn, that lifts it from just another feel good book about how aid work is hard, but so worth it, due to the great... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Holger Hasle Nielsen
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