City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

by Ben Rawlence


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City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence

Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Named a Best of Book of the Year by The Economist and Foreign Affairs

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

The Dadaab refugee camp is many things: to the charity workers, it’s a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, a “nursery for terrorists”; to the Western media, a dangerous no-go area. But to its half a million residents, it’s their last resort.

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks, or plastic. Its entire economy is grey. And its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a firsthand witness to a strange and desperate place, getting to know many of those who had come seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and Kheyro, a student whose future hangs upon her education.

In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp, sketching the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped. Lucid, vivid, and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dabaab home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250118738
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 01/03/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 164,801
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Ben Rawlence's first book Radio Congo was published to critical acclaim by One World in 2012 and chosen by the Economist as a Book of the Year. A graduate of SOAS and the University of Chicago, Ben has dedicated much of the past ten years to working as a researcher for Human Rights Watch. Ben is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent, and has written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, the London Review of Books and Prospect, as well as a panellist at the Frontline Club, Chatham House, the Royal Africa Society and the US Council on Foreign Relations.

Table of Contents


List of people


Part One: Ma’a Lul – Famine

1. The Horn of Africa

2. Guled

3. Maryam

4. Ifo

5. Nisho

6. Isha

7. Hawa Jube

8. A Friday in Nairobi

9. Maiden Voyage

10. The Silent March

11. Muna and Monday

12. Live from Dadaab

13. Billai

Part Two: Rob – Rain

14. Kidnap

15. The Jubaland Initiative

16. Tawane

17. Heroes Day

18. Kheyro

19. Police! Police!

20. Nomads in the City

21. We Are Not Here to Impose Solutions from Afar

22. Y = al-Shabaab

23. Buufis

24. Grufor

25. In Bed with the Enemy

Part Three: Guri – Home

26. Crackdown!

27. The Stain of Sugar

28. Becoming a Leader

29. Too Much Football

30. The Night Watchmen

31. Sugar Daddy

32. Italy, or Die Trying

33. Waiting for the Moon

34. Eid El-Fitr

35. Solar Mamas

36. Knowledge Never Expires

37. Welcome to Westgate

38. Westgate Two

39. A Lap Dance with the UN

40. A Better Place



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