The Iron Bridge

Darfur: the question of genocide

David Morse
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The Translator, by Daoud Hari, written with assistance from two writers, is a very compelling narrative. I can scarcely praise it enough for readers encountering Darfur for the first time.

Among more scholarly and critical books, two are especially noteworthy: The Scramble for Africa, by Seven Fake and Kevin Funk, and Saviors and Survivors, by Mahmood Mamdani. Both take an iconoclastic view of the Save Darfur movement. In the U.S., as well as the role of international institutions.

So many books have been written about Darfur at this point, the following is only a sampling:

Review of "Escape from Slavery", Bok, Francis (with Edward Tivnan). Escape from Slavery. NY: St. Martin's Griffin, 2003. 285 pages, paperback $13.95

Escape from Slavery is the narrative of a South Sudanese Dinka man who was kidnapped by an Arab militiaman when his village was attacked by raiders from the north. Francis Bok was seven years old, entrusted to go the marketplace for the first time alone to sell eggs for his mother, when the attackers swept into the marketplace on horseback, using swords to kill and maim. Francis was abducted, taken north, and forced into slavery for ten years. [Complete review]

Review by David Morse of the Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival: The newest and one of the best books on Darfur by Jen Marlowe, Aisha Bain, and Adam Shapiro with preface by Paul Rusesabagina. Nation Books, 2006. 260 pages, $15.95, softcover. (See David Morse interview of Jen Marlowe, December 2006, Sprouts.

Darfur Diaries offers a sensitive encounter with Darfurians struggling at the edge of survival. It tells that story through the eyes of three independent filmmakers who traveled into Chad and Darfur in November 2004. Darfur Diaries, the DVD, runs 57 minutes. It makes a good tool for fundraising and discussion. The sample footage does not do justice to the DVD.[Complete review]

What Can We Learn from Darfur? Book Reviews by David Morse of Gerard Prunier's "Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide" and Darfur: a short history of a long war" by Alex de Waal and Julie Flint. These reviews first appeared in Friends Journal, September 2006.

Gerard Prunier based "Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide" on extensive scholarly research. Prunier is most helpful for his marshaling of facts — concerning the widely varying estimates of the number of dead, for instance — which he puts at between 280,000 and 310,000 at the beginning of 2005. (Many of us in the movement assumed the number continued to rise, but in fact the wholesale slaughter was largely over by mid-2005, so the widely used figure of 400,000 total used by the Save Darfur Coalition was probably exaggerated.) In his last two chapters Prunier addresses some profound questions — what constitutes a genocide, the impact of the word itself, and the disparity between the "raw African reality and the international community dreamworld." [Complete review]

Darfur: a short history of a long war" by Alex de Waal and Julie Flint is as compact as the title suggests, but rich with detail. De Waal and Flint take us as close as we are likely to get to an insider's view of Darfur. The book is highly readable, given the complexity of the situation. Darfur: a short history of a long war has the tightly framed coherence of a scene viewed through a key-hole. [Complete review]

Review by David Morse of "War and Faith in Sudan" by Gabriel Meyer, with photographs by James Nicholls. Willlam B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005, 216 pages with index.

The photograph on the cover of War and Faith in Sudan offers a telling glimpse of the book's contents. A young Nuba girl of perhaps nine stands straight, although missing her right arm. Her face radiates dignity, intelligence, and inner calm. This stoic perseverance is a subtext in Meyer's account of the Khartoum government's genocidal assault on the people who live in the Nuba mountains, in the heart of Sudan. [Complete review]

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© copyright David Morse, 2003-2011