(The Humanitarian Social Network)
.... and why?
I've noticed this critical spin of recent Aid-book-publishing, and I'm wondering what is your favorite? I've read "The Road to Hell" (Historical Aid Expose - largely Somalia) and I'm into "Damned Nations" which is a lot about the UN, and is partially expose part street-cred. (I'm only 22% in, but is feels like the equivalent of "I totally have a ton of black friends" rebuttal derail applied to international aid.)
So, what is your favorite? What feels the freshest, or most informative, or most useful? Or best of all... what expose shows how the critical thinking and organizational learning transformed suffering into an actual success?
I'm reading "Due Diligence" from David Roodman's Open Book Blog about micro-finance. It's great so far (15% in), very readable and lots of good deep history of the finance/credit movement.
Its not so much an "aid" book but still a great read is called "Emergency Sex". It follows three friends who work for the UN and follows them through E.Timor, Rwanda, Somalia, Haiti, and I think Bosnia in the 90s.
I thought this book was terrible! Just my opinion though! I felt like the authors were pretty self-important and annoying. And really, where was all the sex? Did I just complain about a book because it didn't have enough sex? Yes, yes I did.
Any other thoughts on Emergency Sex as a book. The author features heavily in the documentary U.N. Me with his criticisms of the United Nations.
See I liked Emergency Sex because I loved watching them transition from idealist to cynics. The authors were totally self important which is why I thought it was so comical.
I really liked ""Damned Nations". I think it's well written, covers a lot of the current issues in the industry but is not as defeatist as the "Crisis Caravan", a book I personally hated.
For me one of the absolute classics that should be mandatory reading is "Shake Hands with the Devil" by Romeo Dallaire. It might be dated but I think it's still relevant.
Hmmm... Ok... I'll keep reading Damned Nations -- and I'll definitely look up Shake Hands with the Devil... if nothing else, it has a very provocative title that will look fabulous on my expat bookshelf.
Shake hands with the devil is definetively a must. The book might be tough as it is extremely detailed, I suggest you to see also the related documentary, very well done.
RE: Shake Hands with the Devil - If you read French, do try to read that version. The translation leaves something to be desired. Also, Dallaire isn't really trained as a writer. The book is a bit of a slog, but he has an important story to tell.
I really liked Damned Nations, too. I saw it as an intro book, though, not an expose.
I am in agreement with Timo. I generally liked Damned Nations as an overview of aid and development. Samantha establishes the street cred to get into some of her concerns and arguments. For me, it is a good book for someone who knows very little about aid and development. It can raise some questions and get that person to learn more. For someone who is already engaged, there is nothing new.
I really liked "Shake hands with the devil" a lot; it was an honest and personal (and damning) testimony. But it was certainly focused on DPKO missions, which are neither humanitarian nor development in my mind. I also liked "A bed for the night" which makes an argument about the use of humanitarianism as a bandaid for conflicts that require a political solution. Both were reactions or products of the 90's brand of internationalism, but again, well written.
Perhaps more current is the MSF book that came out last year, "Humanitarian negotiations revealed". Its 300 pages, but you can pick and choose which case studies to read, and it's really relevant to the decline of humanitarian space that's taken place over the last decade. I got sent it electronically - not sure if it's in books stores, etc, but it's probably downloadable from their website.