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The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur
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The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  618 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Former United States Marine Brian Steidle served for six months in Darfur as an unarmed military observer for the African Union. There he witnessed first-hand the ongoing genocide, and documented every day of his experience using email, audio journals, notebook after notebook and nearly 1,000 photographs. Gretchen Steidle Wallace, his sister, who wrote this book with Brian
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published March 26th 2007 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2006)
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Apr 02, 2008 Jon rated it liked it
"The Devil Came on Horseback" gets two stars for being a first-person account of genocide, told honestly and with the benefit of the military expertise that enabled its author to see through many of the egregious lies presented by the Sudanese government, organizer of Sudan's clandestine exterminations. It also gets a bonus star for being the best book available on Darfur, though this is true largely because, well, it's the only one.

And it's a lucky thing, too, because it doesn't earn stars any
Sep 24, 2007 Judy rated it really liked it
I got a copy of this book because I did an interview with Brian Steidle, co-author, who served as an unarmed miliary observer in Darfur. Till that point, the name "Darfur" was not much more than a bumper sticker cause, though I knew the situation there was dire. Steidle, who co-wrote this book with his sister, Gretchen Steidle Wallace, provides gripping first-hand testimony to the ongoing horrors of the genocide at the hands of the Arab militias in Sudan against the Darfurians, who are also Arab ...more
Yousif Makram
Oct 16, 2011 Yousif Makram rated it liked it
This book describes the genocide that was happening in Darfur.
I give this book 3 stars for a coupe of reasons. The first reason would be that the author was very precise about the crisis in Dafur. The author told you the most important details in most of the situations. one bad thing about the book is that the author is sometimes biased and describes the enemies as stupid. For example if the good guys do wrong he finds all the reasons that it wasn't their fault. But when the bad guys do wrong he
Irene Mcintyre
Jan 20, 2014 Irene Mcintyre rated it liked it
Shelves: africa
It was so frustrating to be there, witness what he saw and not be able to do a thing about it. It made me angry just reading about it. He repeats himself a lot but I understand why. I'm glad he wrote this book to get what he became a witness to out to the people so they may become more aware of THE TRAGIC LOSS OF HUMAN LIVES. After reading this one is unable to say it was anything other than a government sponsored genocide being ignored by the rest of the world.
Feb 10, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
The Govt. of Sudan troops are working with the Janjaweed, nomadic muslims, committing genocide against the muslim African farmer communities in Darfur. I think the book does an even better job than the movie describing the horror, red tape, frustration, and absurdities of the situation. The things happening there are frightful knowing the depths of what humanity is capable of.
Feb 25, 2008 Katie rated it it was amazing
This was a hard book to read in that it discusses so much violence towards innocent people, but it is very informative. It is a call to action for all of us who do nothing to end the genocide in Darfur.
The book provides an excellent first person description of the conflicts in Sudan, both in the Nuba mountains/s. Sudan and the Darfur. The author is most effective in describing the complicity of the government (ex. arming the janjaweed with Russian military hardware, refusing to fuel monitoring flights, constant claims of "rebels/bandits" as creating the need for military retaliation, "those are not my soldiers looting") Steidle's descriptions are especially effective for two reasons, he does n ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur, by Grian and Gretchen Steidle A.
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The publisher’s note described this book as follows:

The Devil Came on Horseback is an intense, vivid autobiographical report from the heart of violent Darfur and a call to action by a former American Marine
who became a military observer for the African Union. The first extensive on-the-ground account of the genocide in Sudan, it leads us through the tragic
impact of
Jan 04, 2008 Jen rated it liked it
I'm torn about rating this book a 3 or a 4. As far as ease of read, it was surely a 3 because of all the abbreviations and okay, let's admit it, my lack of depth of knowledge on the subject. Africa in general is a complicated continent, with it's several different ethnic groups, tribes, religions, expansive culture and geography and climate. Throw into that mix a concentration on one specific region in one specific country where it is hard to follow all the interworkings of several groups that a ...more
Nov 15, 2008 Nicole rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to reading this book so as to receive an honest accounting (and education) of the horrors of Darfur. I wanted to learn about the politics behind the genocide. The players. The purported solution. None of that was offered in this book. First, it was written as though the author wanted it to be an action novel: Sophomoric and cursory explanations of the conflict, but heavy on the scenes where the author is *almost* kidnapped, or *almost* threatened. I felt as though th ...more
Jul 26, 2008 Patty rated it really liked it
It's inspirational to learn about people like Brian and Gretchen Steidle, who invest their time and passion in people who so desperately need it - for no other reason than it's the right thing to do. Steidle is easy to relate to, and I appreciate his style - he did not mince words or spare any details. I got this book at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Someone said, "if you read only one book about genocide in Darfur, this is the book to read." I'm so glad I did. Thanks to Brian Steidle ...more
Feb 17, 2010 Dillon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A chronology of the massacres that the author reported to the African Union during a year stay in Darfur. That is pretty much it. He doesn't provide a history of the government, the janjaweed, the SLA etc (in fact the name Al Bashir is never mentioned during the book...), or the issues in Darfur. doesn't provide any history of the complacency of the west, even though he complains, rightfully so, about the west's lack of effort. Overall, it felt like he was going to write a book about no matter h ...more
Steve Parcell
Nov 13, 2016 Steve Parcell rated it really liked it
What a truly terrifying depressing heartwrenching book about the genocide of ethnic tribes in Darfur. How a government can slaughter thousands of men women AND children to further their means is a tragedy for humanity.

The author expresses his frustrations and anger very well. He is a very brave and dedicated man who tried as part of the African Union peacekeeping force to help and save these people. But how we as a planet have allowed this to happen is devastating to me.

A thoroughly fascinating
Banu Altunbas
It is interesting to read the early days of Darfur conflict from a soldier who was stationed as a monitor (relatively naive in the international peacekeeping operations, though). I liked the way that the conflict was portrayed as it was unfolding, but it was also clear that he was certainly taking side in his observations against the GoS (and there is nothing wrong with it). I think it's not the easiest story to tell and he is doing pretty well in his explanations. Good reading for the insight t ...more
Dec 04, 2008 Ray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a former U.S. marine who served for a while as an independent military observer in Sudan. The book chronicles his witnessing of the genocide taking place in Darfur and the lack of public attention given to the horrors taking place. His frustration in seeing any international pressure on the government of Sudan, or in raising people's consciousness to the atrocities is apparent. Reading the book certainly makes you appreciate life in the West.

Oct 20, 2007 Jennifer rated it liked it
Written about the genocide and atrocities going on in Darfur, this book outlinies them in some detail. It is a confusing subject - with many rebels and tribes and different factions of the Sudanese government, it's often hard to follow who is fighting who and where exactly all this is taking place. However, it is staggering and compelling to realize this is going on in our generation and we as an international community will have to answer for it at some point.
Aug 30, 2011 Dan rated it it was amazing
This is a hard book to read, dealing as it does with genocide. I almost didn't make it past the opening pages, though to be honest, I was reading it as a new father and the opening "vignette" dealt with violence against a child. I don't know that I can be objective enough to truly judge the writing, but I believe it is an important story to tell and be heard so that as many as possible are aware and can be sure what happened is not forgotten.
Feb 28, 2012 Dionne rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, africa
I have done my research on the genocide on Darfur, but this really gives an in-depth look at the atrocities that happened over there. More should have been done and should be done even now. I will never be able to comprehend how some are able to commit such horrifying human rights abuses against the most innocent of society. And how others are able to sit by when evil is committed and do nothing.
Jan 08, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, africa
It's clear that Brian Steidle is more schooled in military operations than in writing, but given that, this memoir is pretty compelling. I could definitely feel his frustration at not being able to do more to prevent the genocide he was instructed to witness. The world's indifference to what is going on in Darfur continues to alarm is it that the U.S. is taking no significant action to protect the people of Darfur?
Aug 12, 2009 Erik rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
It is hard to read about genocide, and the killing is not over when the book ends, but the story is rather heroic in an everyman sort of way. It is a story you feel has to be told, despite the grimness. Darfur seemed like such a rumor when it was happening due to the meek media coverage and inaction on the world's part, but this book made it real and stirred a passion for justice.
Jodi Robinson
Jul 07, 2008 Jodi Robinson rated it liked it
author spends a year in Sudan and tells us his stories when no one else will speak up about it, basically risking his life doing so. Although sometimes slow, a great behind the scenes take on the conflict. Very disturbing (to be expected) and frustrating knowing that this is going on and the international community is doing nothing to stop it.
Jan 01, 2008 Jenny rated it liked it
I think this was a great intro into what is happening in Darfur. For the most part I didn't know about what was happening there. The author is a military man, so he often saw the conflict through the lens of military strategy-which wasn't as interesting to me as maybe some more human interest stuff. But an informative, quick read overall.
Nov 04, 2009 Bobby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book on the genocide in Darfur. It is remarkable what the government of Sudan-in conjunction with the Janjaweed-is doing to its own people. I now have a greater appreciation-and interest-in what is occurring in that part of the world. How can a nation continue to let this genocide of a peoples continue? I highly recommend you read this book.
Jan 16, 2013 Regi rated it really liked it
Heartbreaking. It is really hard to critique the writing of a book that opened my eyes to so much going on in the world. This was my first book on Darfur, and not my last. There is so much heartbreak in the book, but it compels you to follow the author and not turn your eyes away from the misery and his life changes. The book changed me.
Not what I was expecting, though it was an interesting read. I haven't finished it and don't know whether I will. I guess after reading so much about Darfur, I was wary of Steidle's simplistic account of things.
Leah Coffin
Dec 11, 2011 Leah Coffin rated it liked it
I could have done without the endless reiteration of "awed Sudanese people meet their first whitey" scenes. That said, this book is important for the witness it bears to the horrors committed in Darfur.
Apr 26, 2007 ariana added it
Recommends it for: everyone
Great book and documentary based on the experiences of an ex-marine living in Sudan, witnessing the genocide in Darfur, and his attempts (with no avail) to push the U.S. government and govt's of the world to stop the killings ordered by the Sudanese government.
Jan 06, 2008 Kristienne rated it really liked it
He's certainly no writer, so don't expect a masterpiece. But, expect a searing memoir of a former marine's experience in Darfur. If you do not know of the massacre (humanitarian crisis terminology is NOT strong enough) happening in this region, this is a great introduction.
Apr 26, 2008 Katie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
this book opens up your eyes to the violence in Darfur, Sudan as told by someone who witnessed it. i had to do a project on Darfur and this book was a big help. WARNING: IF YOU HAVE A HEART YOU WILL CRY!!!!
Jul 28, 2008 Katherine rated it liked it
Very informative, first hand account of the atrosities that unfolded in Darfur. I found the book not very well written and a little drawn out. Overall, a great book for anyone wishing to learn more about the genocide in Darfur.
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