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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari

A nicely done personal history of a large, sad tale

Daoud Hari
Unfortunately, the only thing that 99.999% of the world associates with the word "Darfur" is death, hate and tragedy. Daoud Hari's small memoir,  The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur, reminds the reader that Darfur was once home to millions - a place of family, friends, play and work.

That is the strongest asset of this short work - it puts a human face on a large tragedy. Written in simple, elegant English and with a wry sense of humor ("Most people like me, are tall - I am six feet - and are also a little thin because of all the walking, the hard work and the dieting that is one of the many advantages of poverty."[p. 108]), this book is an extension of Hari's way of fighting back against the forces that are destroying Darfur. Rather than taking up arms, Hari decided to expose Darfur to the world by escorting journalists from Chad into Darfur in Sudan.

This was not a choice for the faint of heart. Journalists and their guides were considered to be spies by the government of Sudan. Hari and his journalists were exposed to gunfire, captured multiple times and eventually one group was captured, tortured and eventually released through the efforts of former presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Before reading the book, I suggest reading "Appendix 1: A Darfur Primer" at the end of the text. It helps give his story some context.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on June 2, 2008.

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