Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies, and Aid
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Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies, and Aid

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Damned Nations is the brilliant distillation of Samantha Nutt’s observations over the course of fifteen years providing hands-on care in some of the world's most violent flashpoints.

Combining original research with her personal story, it is a deeply thoughtful meditation on war as it is being waged around the world against millions of civilians -- primarily women and chil...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Signal (first published January 1st 2011)
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Wendy Caron
I made the mistake of reading this book on the train, with no kleenex in my purse. Not that this is one of those books that plays-up the horrors of war and manipulates your emotions; rather, Nutt's honest, straight-forward story-telling of her personal involvement in war-torn countries lays it all on the line evoking an honest, unbidden reaction of tears. Nutt provided a balanced mixture of anecdotes and information, the former reinforcing and illustrating the latter. It was impossible not to re...more
Carly Drake
I had the pleasure of listening to Samantha Nutt at a conference in Calgary this past January. She was lovely, and had so many great things to say about community development that I didn't hesitate to buy her book and have her sign it while she was there. I wasn't disappointed with this read - Samantha is a tough, seasoned veteran of the development world. It's no surprise that her writing was jam-packed with pertinent information. There were some tedious passages, but overall I was gripped. The...more
Betty
I bought this book on the advice of a friend who shares my interest in international women's issues. Damned Nations fully lived up to expectations, providing not only insight but turning into one of the few books in recent memory that I've read without interruption. Dr. Nutt kept me engaged from the start, and my ebook is peppered with highlighted passages. Bravo! I will surely continue to read her work.
Lisa Faye
As someone who works in development, this is the book that I wish so many of my friends who don't work in development would read. It's easy to read, short, and has a nice blend of personal stories and facts. It comes with a Canadian perspective and could really help some people I know to think more critically about the Canadian government and Canadian mining companies abroad. I also think that she really outlines the best way to give - not a 1 month volunteer stint, not your second hand toys, no...more
Janeschmidt
Simply put, everyone in the developed world should read this book. While it is pretty dense, it is very readable and short enough that most would be able to get through it with a small amount of determination. It was a transformational read in that it made me re-evaluate how I approach charitable giving and gave me enough talking points to be able to intelligently discuss the pros and cons of donating to large organizations.

In short, Nutt's thesis is that charitable donations and federal intern...more
Fnouristani
Reading this book opened my eyes to how indirectly each of us is responsible for the suffering of so many through inaction or thoughtless actions. Through Samantha Nutt’s passionate and eloquent words I feel that my understanding of this topic had been enhanced immensely. Her accounts of the people she has met throughout the years and their tragedies are moving, told with compassion not with pity. These personal anecdotes are what substantiate her claims and give human faces to suffering around...more
Elizabeth B
This book doesn't mince words. It's a compelling look at the arms trade and it's long range (and little known) effects on everyday people. Full of facts and figures, that may put off some readers which is unfortunate. Rather than a dull history book or a re-imagining of stories already told, this book provides a ground breaking look of humanitarian efforts that directly impact those in need. Instead of formulas or impossible suggestions to solve the problem, the author talks from her experience...more
René
The title of Chapter 5 says it all : "Pack your bags, we're going on a guilt trip". Dr. Nutt, the most inspiring speaker I ever had the privilege to hear, writes a powerful statement regarding the effects of the trade in arms, the lack of focus in developmental aid, the little steps we could make to try have the developed world (which is the sole beneficiary of the developing world's misery) move towards really helping the victims of our greed. Many other things need to change : the harmful agri...more
Matt Escott
Although this book was at times very difficult to read (some of the stories she tells are horrific and quite graphic), it was also a very important book. Samantha Nutt has spent over 20 years in war torn areas of the world, and offers some excellent insight into the best ways that aid should be used. In particular, I appreciated her insistence that simply having good intentions is not enough (advice that many churches would do well to heed), but that aid, even if well meaning, can actually have...more
Paula
Dr. Samantha Nutt insightfully analyzes the causes of armed conflict and critiques the effectiveness of various types of humanitarian aid in her book, Damned Nations. A recipient of the Order of Canada, Samantha Nutt shares her experiences as a humanitarian who has worked in the most violent places on earth. Through her observations, we witness horrific atrocities while meeting people who give their lives for peace and progress. This book will resonate with anyone who has wondered how to make a...more
Bennett Coles
Written by Dr. Samantha Nutt, the founder of a not-for-profit organization called War Child that makes it their business to get in deep and protect the vulnerable, this is an excellent book told convincingly by a woman from the front lines of modern aid. She describes some surprising truths about how the multi-billion-dollar aid industry can go wrong, and how we can be unwitting accomplices even when we mean well. Although a little light on specific solutions, Dr. Nutt's analysis is direct and p...more
Meghan Rose
An excellent examination of the unfortunate way aid is becoming more entwined with military spending. It can also be read in counterpoint to Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid; the arguments in Damned Nations are far stronger, more compelling, less ideological, and in the end, more convincing, than those given in Dead Aid. McNutt destroys the idea that the free market is not the solution (as advocated in Dead Aid), as well as destroying the military-humanitarian hybrid which many NGOs are moving towards.

A...more
Kathy
Samantha Nutt is a doctor who has spent over 15 years in international development in some of the scariest places in the world. Her books documents the myriad ways in which international aid works against those it should help, and makes the case that good intentions are simply not enough when we're trying to help those in need. We need to understand the complexities involved and resist the urge to provide quick solutions. Her book is a must read for anyone interested in international development...more
Shannon
Samantha Nutt's humanitarian and development experience really allows this book to express the truths behind wars and aid without being political or accusatory. I really liked that she gave honest opinions on how to provide aid without making suggestions of specific organizations - many of which I'm sure she has - her own included, but it gives the book an unbiased approach, and the solutions within it more weight. Definitely gives you something to think about re: personal views on international...more
Julie
Everyone should read this book and expose themselves to the global impacts of their individual actions. In that way, the book emphasized our connectedness and the need to act locally but think globally. As someone engaged in development work, reading this was affirming of many of my opinions on development issues. However, reading this book I was challenged to critique and evaluate some of my work in Tanzania, which I believe is beneficial both to the organizations development and to the communi...more
Paige Johnson
Excellent essay on all of her experiences with civil wars in the developing world through out her career. It is not an easy read due to the explicitness of her descriptions but these stories need to be told. We have to understand how we damage developing countries through aid and weapons and non-sustainable programs. We need to know what we support with our dollars and how the organizations use it. It is no longer about sending food to "starving kids in China".
Angela Brouwer
This book was an eye opener! I learned how much Canada and other western democracies increase the proliferation of weapons in developing countries. Also shows you how frightening it is to be in a country where a war of any kind is taking place. It is a little biased in parts but that's the author's perogative. This Canadian woman has been to the frontlines of many wars and knows first hand the horrors of war!
CynthiaA
Wow. A whole lot of information to digest -- much of it extremely sobering. But much of it helpful, insightful and hopeful, too. I won't look at "aid" the same ever again. I will be spending a lot of time over the next few days and weeks thinking about this, digesting all her info, and deciding what I personally am going to do about it. Thank you, Samantha Nutt. This was a brave and important work.
Debbie
Wow - picked this up last week. If you have ever given to a charity like Red Cross or Feed the Children, you should read this. Left me speechless, the wind-knocked-out of me and overwhelmed all at once. But somehow Dr Sam Nutt offers hope and guidance to how people can be involved. Made me really think at my actions. I hope you will read it and be moved......into action or at least into retrospection.
Somya
Dr. Nutt works all over the world in strife ridden places where aid is needed. Much of what she has to say is already common knowledge in the countries where such aid is needed. But this is the first time someone who works in the field has clearly laid out the flaws in the aid system used all over the world. Also worth a mention is the glossary at the end.

More power to you Dr. Nutt!








Christine
When I saw Samantha Nutt on Peter Mansbridge, One on One, I knew I wanted to read her book. She is indeed a well educated, well travelled, giving woman. I really enjoyed her writings regarding personal experience. She recommends how individuals should donate and what questions to ask. The book is so full of information that at times I found it too much, in too few pages.
Megan Catherine
Such simplicity, honesty, humility and even humour - this short and sweet tale of Dr. Nutt is a rarity in such literature. As a woman and as a peacebuilder, I found myself repeatedly applauding her on-point observations and reflections. This is the stuff people in our field (and out) need to be grappling with. Absolutely well done.
Erin
I really enjoyed this book and some of the compelling stories she recounts from her personal experience. A number of the issues she mentioned in this book were concerns I already had (from casual observation or reading) that she was able to confirm with actual facts and experience.
Leone
Easy to read analysis of war and humanitarian aid in the 21st century. Asks the hard questions and provides well thought out responses. It is a thought provoking book that is well researched. Be prepared....the way you view the world may be altered.
Christine
Enjoyed reading about the experiences of Dr. Nutt, she shared some great insights on the lives of those in war zones. Even better that she graduated from the program that I am currently in.
John
Compelling and highly recommended read. Makes you think about where your donations are going and what you have done to contribute to some of the ongoing suffering in various parts of the world.
Chinook
Moving, if not really telling me anything I don't know. The Canadian connection was interesting. It made me want to go out and do something useful, or at the very least move to Africa.
Luise

The do's and dont's of foreign aid by an experienced insider. Important information from an impressive author - unfortunately the tone is a bit too academic for wide appeal.
Lora
A well-written and important book! Everyone who cares about international aid and everyone who donates to international aid agencies should read this book!
Karen
I appreciate the observations in this book about intentions vs. outcomes and the need to rethink the ways we approach development and aid. An important read.
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