“There is going to be a shooting here and it is a toss-up who is going to get the boy’s first round. The soldier, about ten years old, is jamming the barrel of his gun hard against my driver’s face, and unless the kid decides to go for me, the relief worker, my driver is going to get his head blown off.”
Where Soldiers Fear to Tread
John Burnett survived this ordeal and others during his service as a relief worker in Somalia. But many did not. In this gripping firsthand account, Burnett shares his experiences during the flood relief operations of 1997 to 1998. Ravaged by monsoons, starvation, and feuding warlords, Somalia continues to be one of the most dangerous places on earth. Both a personal story and a broader tale of war, the politics of aid, and the horrifying reality of child-soldiers, his chronicle represents the astonishing challenges faced by humanitarian workers across the globe.
There are currently thousands of civilian workers serving in over one hundred nations. Today, they are as likely to be killed in the line of duty as are trained soldiers. In the past five years alone, more UN aid workers have been killed than peacekeepers. When Burnett joined the World Food Program, he was told their mission would be safe, their help welcomed–and they would be pulled out if bullets started to fly.
When he arrived in Somalia, Burnett found a nation rent by a decade of anarchy, a people wary of foreign intervention, and a discomfiting uncertainty that the UN would remember he’d been sent there at all.
From Burnett’s young Somali driver to the armed civilians, warlords, and colleagues he would never see again, this unforgettable memoir delves into the complexity of humanitarian missions and the wonder of everyday people who risk their lives to help others in places too dangerous to send soldiers.
“Where Soldiers Fear to Tread is a rousing adventure story and a troubling morality tale....If you’ve ever sent 20 bucks off to a relief organization, you owe it to yourself to read this book.”—Michael Maren, author of
The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.84(d)|
About the Author
John S. Burnett is a former reporter for United Press International. He has written for National Geographic, the Guardian, and the New York Times. He is also the author of Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book reads like a bullet train from New York to Mogadishu, from heaven to hell, a pageturner if ever there was one. You get a privileged insight into the life of a reliefworker, a first hand account of the absurd madness of a godforsaken place where anarchy rules and where lives have no value. Speedboats donated by western governments to distribute relief supplies quickly turn into perfect terror tools for local warlords, who find them to be ideal to impose their will on the population, specially when mounted with a machine gun... John Burnett completely repaints the picture that I had in my mind of a relief worker. Only guts, ingenuity and a whole lotta luck will help you to get out alive of a place like this. From the comfort of your home to the nightmare of Somalia is just a book away...
There are not many books that you pick up and don¿t put down until its finished but I¿ve found one. It starts fast and stays that way, building the suspense. The TV survival shows pale in comparison to the events in this book. This is fascinating read and it certainly opened my eyes, from the politicizing of aid to dodging the bullets in a war zone. These people, the relief workers, are the real heroes. As the cover says ¿ anybody who gives 20 dollars for a humanitarian crisis, better read this book.