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on 3 November 2010
Linda Polman's book is the kind that couldn't have been written by anyone with less of an insider's eye on the problematic relationship between humanitarian aid, donor governments, the media and recipients. That only makes it the more extraordinary: in return for access to refugee camps and NGO input, reporters are all too often compromised. Not Polman, however, whose book is an arresting mix of on-the-ground reportage and investigation that slowly lays bare the mire of opaque practices, compromised principles and self-defeating realpolitik at the heart of the international aid industry, studded with portraits of warlords and agency chiefs, direct conversation and jaw-dropping facts. The sad thing is that so many have seized on the book as an attack on the idea of humanitarian aid itself. It's not - any more than, say, the Washington Post's expose of Nixon's skullduggery was an attack on the idea of a democratically elected President. What emerges from the Boschian parade of wrongs here is actually quite salutary: the idea that there is a way forward; that the same scrutiny is due the aid industry as the areas of business and administration their structures and turnovers increasingly emulate; that an industry that welcomes, not attempts to block, scrutiny will emerge not only healthier but more effective and more humane for it; and that the transparency and accountability demanded of other multi-billion-dollar industries whose actions affect the fate of nations should apply to aid. The real marvel, though, is that this book on a topic that strikes many as somewhat worthy and unexciting, not only delivers a sound thesis, but does so in prose and narrative that positively crackles with life and colour. And Polman emerges not as a whistleblower, or an Angry Of Wherever, knocking aid; but as someone who feels passionately about humanitarian aid, and just as passionately betrayed by the dismaying shenanigans that riddle Aid, Inc.
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on 29 June 2013
Linda Polman's Crisis Caravan is, apart from an introduction, the same as her War Games:the story of aid in Modern Times. I could not get the contents of Crisis Caravan as this was a kindle edition. But the first chapter of both books is Goma -a total ethical disaster.
I know this as I bought both books, thinking, obviously, they were different.
As I had to rate the book for the purpose of this review I have given it 5 stars, because I think it is excellent.
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on 20 June 2015
A difficult, but essential book, for anyone who donates to international charities and a plea to those charities to ditch the business plan, focus on the purpose and above all, be honest about the unintended consequences if our actions.
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on 22 August 2013
Great book. Gives us a lot to think about. Hopefully the author's plea will be heard and governments and ngo's will work together to prevent adverse results coming from our good intentions.
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on 18 September 2015
Essential reading for anyone interested in development and aid. Required reading for anyone thinking of starting their own NGO (for any embyonic MONGOs).
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on 16 April 2011
I was disappointed to discover that this was the same book as "War Games" but now with a new title for the American market. Perhaps I didn't read your information thoroughly enough. I was looking for an update on the previous work which I found very enlightening although a little tedious towards the end.
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on 12 October 2010
My Wife heard the Author interviewed on Radio 4 or World Service, it was frustrating to wait for the publish date for the book because I understand that some interested parties wanted it edited or even stopped. I shall read it after her but from her exclamations I should think it will at very least thought provoking. From what she has told me I think there are many who should be ashamed of themselves but the sort of people we are talking about have such thick skins it won't get through.
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