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Saving Darfur: Everyone's Favourite African War [Paperback]

Rob Crilly
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 Feb 2010
Africa is a continent riddled with conflict. Most are forgotten wars that rumble away unnoticed for decades. Darfur is different. For six years an unlikely coalition of the religious right, the liberal left and a smattering of celebrities has kept Darfur's bloody conflict in the headlines. Rob Crilly arrived in Sudan in 2005 to find out what made Darfur special. Far from being a simple clash of good and evil, he discovers the complicated truth about Arabs and Africans, and the world's failed attempts to halt the killing. Along the way he rides with rebels on donkeys, gets caught in a Janjaweed attack and learns lessons from Osama bin Laden's horse. What he found will turn your understanding of the war upside down.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Reportage Press (9 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906702195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906702199
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 929,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'A haunting and brutally honest account of international failure and African suffering. Lucid, engaging and written with love for the entire continent of Africa.' --Fergal Keane, BBC News

Rob Crilly tells the story of Darfur up close, focusing on the people who have fought and suffered. Neither cynical nor moralizing, he brings to life its protagonists-rebel fighters, Arab militiamen, displaced villagers, foreign aid workers, diplomats and campaigners. Saving Darfur delves beneath the stereotypes to tackle the complexities of Darfur and Sudan, illuminating both the ordinariness and the bizarreness of this extraordinary African war.' --Alex De Waal, author of 'Darfur: A New History of a Long War'

'While I disagree with much of Mr Crilly's analysis, he provides us with a solid journalistic account of his first-hand experiences in Darfur.' --Mia Farrow, actress and activist

From the Inside Flap

`A haunting and brutally honest account of international
failure and African suffering' - Fergal Keane, BBC News

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Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging the Status Quo 31 Mar 2010
Former Times East Africa Correspondent Rob Crilly's Saving Darfur is surprisingly amusing considering the deadly serious subject matter. Liberated from the Times tight word-count, the writing style is very English and reminded me a little of Mac Donald Frazer's Flashman than more earnest (and duller) accounts.

I suspect this book is not destined to be carried around campus by bleeding hearts and angry young men. Which is a shame, because the self - depreciating Crilly comes across as an intelligent and likeable chap. I suspect he likes Africa a bit too much. Because he sets out to achieve what he knows will be hard to sell, to `complicate' the story of Darfur.

The result is not only a personal account par excellence. For along with a heavy dose of bluff humour, the odd stray misogynistic description, and tall (but I suspect in this case entirely truthful) tales. The book is packed with a rich vein of sometimes colourful, often plain irrelevant, but always interesting facts. It also tells the often tragic stories of those involved with objectivity and kindness and without show-boating.

It does what journalism is meant to - gives the reader with no-knowledge of the subject the vital wider context that would be impossible to slot in to five hundred words, told in the voice of a regular at your local pub. But Crilly's inclusion of the occasional conspiratorial gossipy tit-bit, and his often acerbic analysis of the world-view of the situation somehow promises to achieve the difficult balancing act of also amusing the most-jaded old Africa hand.

The book starts as a gloriously honest romp through the area's political landscape.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing Rob Crilly's Saving Darfur 25 July 2010
By Alex T
I second the comments in the reviews made above. There are many books milling around documenting the experiences of journalists and aid workers in Africa. Saving Darfur is among the more well-informed, thought-provoking and accessible. As he crisscrosses the region, the author's anecdotes thread together, allowing the reader to build up a broader picture into the West's often fraught relationship with Sudan. In doing so, he presents a very complex situation in very readable chunks.

He convincingly shows how Western audiences are often presented a very simplistic analysis of the causes and dynamics of the conflict in Darfur by Western media and well-intentioned lobby-groups; which may be misleading, or, in the worst case, may be detrimental to peace efforts in the region. Even the rather seedy description of the author's journalistic romp covering the Mohammed the Teddy Bear fiasco shows how surreal the West's relationship with Sudan can become, driven by stereotypes and misunderstandings on both sides.

Should definitely be on the reading list of anyone working in, traveling to, interested in the region.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 4 Jun 2010
Eminently readable without being overly-simplistic. Does an astonishingly good job of taking the reader on an informative and entertaining journing into what is a deeply complex conflict - certainly far more complex that the Western media would have you believe. As someone that also covered Sudan and the Darfur conflict at a similar time, I can't really fault Rob's analysis of it in any meaningful way. Here's a guy that really understands what's going on, and yet, as a good journalist should be able to, can communicate it in a way that ordinary folk can understand.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! -- Insightful and Timely on Many Levels 5 Jan 2012
By Ralph Adam Fine - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I am shocked that I am the first reviewer. Rob Crilly's Saving Darfur is an on-the-ground, sand-between the toes look at one of the most misunderstood human tragedies that have afflicted our planet, at least within recent memory.

Crilly went there as a freelancer in 2005, trying to not only make some money stringing for respected publications but also to find out what was really happening and cut through the fog of disaster relief. He takes us with him on his often harrowing journeys.

He gives us a fly-on-the-wall insights into his struggles with government bureaucrats in Khartoum, his sharing camp sites with the various rebel groups in their far-from-safe sanctuaries, and the far-from-pleasant or secure refugee camps overflowing with folks forced from their homes and subsidence farms by predatory rebels, government surrogates, as well as government troops. At times, I felt as if I were reading Richard Burton's journals (at least what he would have written if he were a contemporary, rather than a 19th Century explorer); Crilly writes that well! Indeed, at times I harkened back to what I believe was Winston Churchill's best book, The River War, also about the Sudan, albeit more than one-hundred years ago.

One brief example: After destruction by government-owned Russian-built planes dropping drums of rudimentarily packed explosives: "Boulders, rocks and pebbles that were once organised into walls had given up any purpose and sunk back down to the earth; the mango trees that would have once been prodded by children trying to reach their fruit stood unpicked, their crop rotting on the ground."

It got so that the misery and suffering (the slaughter, the rapes, the pillaging, the displacements) was so "common" that editors were no longer interested in the litany. He had to keep asking himself whether what he was going to send them was "still shocking enough to make it on to the pages?" Because if it was not, he would not be published and he would not be paid. Yet, Crilly wanted to tell the stories that "were too rarely told. They were complex and fell outside the accepted narrative of popular understanding. Pitching these kinds of stories to editors was not easy." Selling Darfur is that book and Crilly's telling the stories that are too rarely told and his analyses are its great strength.

Horrifically, the various peace initiatives and the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant for Sudan's military dictator made things worse for the millions of ravaged and displaced souls. In essence, as Crilly tells it, the saving-Darfur folks' well-orchestrated campaigns to vilify and bring the Khartoum government to "justice" not only ignored the reality that none of the power players--rebels, government, or surrounding countries--were blameless, but also slit the meager lifelines of aid. As he puts it in describing a woman whose plight mirrored that of millions: "Previously a victim of war, now she was a victim of peace."

Please read Crilly's book because it is a mirror of all that has gone wrong with the human race for millennia. Perhaps it will help us find a better, more nuanced way.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darfur - the truth. 23 Mar 2010
By James M. Laurie - Published on Amazon.com
This is a beautiful but terrible story.
So much is beautiful about Africa, so much is terrible. It is a continent that is growing up and the growing pains are intense and prolonged.
The magnificence of the vistas, the brilliance of the smiles, the laughter of the children, all are starkly contrasted by the desolation of burned villages and vast refugee camps, the tears of the raped and widowed and the wailing of the orphans.
In a land blessed by great riches but wracked by wars, hatred, greed and corruption Rob Crilly - one of a new breed of journalist prepared to get behind the black-and-white headlines - dissects just one of those wars or, as he calls it, "Everyone's Favourite African War" - Darfur.
Crilly says he did not set out on a mission to upset the popular view of the conflict - the tales of genocide by hordes of mounted Arabs sweeping under cover of darkness into peaceful Black African villages.
Such raids are happening, but this simple picture of light-skinned North versus dark-skinned South, Evil versus Good, presented, often in good faith, by some celebrities, organisations and much of the western press - far from helping the suffering people of Darfur - could, argues Crilly, be hindering a solution.
The failure of the international organisations big enough to stop the horror, to understand and accept the complexities behind what is going on, appears to be yet another black mark in their African exercise book.
Whatever your viewpoint, don't claim that you understand the Darfur tragedy without reading this book.
You don't have to buy it; you can borrow it or steal it, but read it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and amazing job of Rob Crilly ! 22 May 2013
By Andre - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Its highly recommended for those brainwashed, alas they won't read such colorful book, cause they like black-n-white pictures of the world...
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