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Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  25 reviews
National Book Critics Circle Award FinalistTraveling for nearly two years and across four continents, Caroline Moorehead takes readers on a journey to understand why millions of people are forced to abandon their homes, possessions, and families in order to find a place where they may, quite literally, be allowed to live. Moorehead's experience living and working with refu ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 21st 2006 by Picador (first published March 3rd 2005)
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Reading ”Human Cargo” by Caroline Moorhead has changed me. She explains the history of refugees and their rights. Then she shows us what it means to live between countries by recounting the experiences of refugees as they leave their homelands, and arrive in foreign lands.

“Some stories are so heavy only silence helps you carry them” wrote Anne Michaels in “Fugitive Pieces.” These stories were so raw that I could only read a few pages of this book at a time.

Refugees from across the world explai
This book starts with a sometimes confusing race through the history of organisations tasked with the management of displaced people but the following chapter, which describes the plight of Africans crossing the Mediterranean in often perilous and fatal conditions, is very moving as is the description of the Mexico-US border and the risks, again often fatal, that people take to reach what they hope to be a better life on the other side of the fence. The chapter on Australia is an indictment of t ...more
Refugees and Asylum Seekers have become political footballs in recent years, this book traces the history of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and follows the conditions of people seeking asylum in the world today. There are some personal, tragic and horrific accounts of the violence and persecution that people flee from, and the bureaucratic morass and ill-feeling they encounter when they finally arrive at any given destination in search of, not just a better life, but some semblanc ...more
I read the hardcover version of this book which, for some reason, is nowhere on here. A very good and detailed look at refugees today. What it means to be a refugee, how a person becomes a refugee, and what other countries are doing about refugees. What was nice about this is that it has a lot of stories about actual refugees--how they came to be refugees and what their lives are like as refugees. And this is what is so heartbreaking. What is worse is that these stories are an unbelievably small ...more
DISGUSTED. Having come as a refugee in the US myself, I wanted to read this book, as I enjoyed C.Moorehead's other works. I was deeply appalled by hypocrisy and anti-Semitism in the chapter describing Palestinian camps. Not one word about acts of terror, suicide attacks, innocent people killed and maimed, and the only side being blamed for it all is Israel, and all of author's compassion lies with Palestinians. Meanwhile, the events on the ground tell us about "humanitarian" UNRWA activities, su ...more
Sheryl Mountenay
Lord. It is almost unbearable what people have to endure. Yet they do!

This book is a hard read, took me several days, but while unsettling, very informative and so well written. Well worth it.

The arbitrariness of birth determines so much. Lots to think about.
This book is brilliantly organized. The sections are broken down so that they follow the chronological process that refugees endure, from fleeing the country to adapting to their new "homes". Moorehead incorporates both the bigger picture and personal stories, but successfully avoids getting caught up in the trauma. (Of course these refugees have endured unimaginable suffering and sometimes abuse, but that's really not the point of this book.)

The writing is not the best - there are a handful of
This was a very good book about the worldwide issue of refugees. It told me a lot about a situation that I knew very little about.

However, it was also written from a liberal, anti-government, pro-UN, international, and open borders POV that I don't necessarily agree with.
I forgot I had read this book and realized while reading What is the What that I drew from some background information on the politics of refugee resettlement from Moorehead's research. (Although it's not necessary to have this information..Egger's writing speaks for itself).
May 02, 2012 Cynthia added it
Shelves: unfinished
Okay so I didn't even get a quarter of the way through this book and I am unlikely to finish it (in fact, I think I've lost it). No fault of the book, it's interesting and well written, I think I wanted a break from it, and then never went back.
Robby sonzogni
I learned so much from this book about human refugees throughout the world and how each country deals ( or doesn't) with them. It is sad in alot of places but so very important in the world view. Each chapter is about a different country.
Fascinating and so educational. I really appreciated that she included history about refugees and the laws surrounding them instead of just talking about the current situation. Having the human interest pieces really brought it all home.
Kevin p.
I wasn't a huge fan of the writing, but the stories and the 'big picture' of the refugee situation in this world and the terrible policies of most countries in dealing with it made me read this book twice...twice!
I admit it... this is one that I didn't bother to finish. I'm finding that my time is just too precious to waste on books that aren't really good. This one was somewhat interesting but kinda dry.
This was an extremely interesting book, for those interested in Human rights and trafficking, this is a great book to read. Gives a nice concise history of the UNHCR and human rights law as well...
Apr 17, 2010 Kevin added it
Looking forward to this book as it seems to seek out refugees shortly after they leave their home country and wind up in various places. Starts with the Liberians in Cairo; very interesting!
"... the poverty of camp refugees is about more than just not having things; it is about having no way to get them, no means of altering or controlling one's own life." - caroline moorehead.
This was one of the 2006 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
Jul 20, 2008 Mirae rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in human rights
Shelves: nk-human-rights
Slow-burning but great book! Lots of detailed information and interviews with refugees and the current refugee crisis.
Mar 06, 2008 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: international affairs majors
Recommended to Lauren by: an international affairs major
a must read if you care about human trafficking, but be warned, it will give you nightmares
A heartfelt and moving account of the plight of refugees across the world.
We live in an age of refugees.
an important book.
Sharon W.
I love refugees...
Drew Riekman
Drew Riekman marked it as to-read
Mar 17, 2015
Ashton marked it as to-read
Mar 09, 2015
Jasmine marked it as to-read
Mar 05, 2015
Sharon L. Sherman
Sharon L. Sherman marked it as to-read
Feb 22, 2015
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Caroline Moorehead has written columns on human rights first for The Times and then for the Independent (1980-91) and has made a series of TV programmes on human rights for the BBC (1990-2000). She has also written the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (1998) and has helped to set up a Legal Advice Centre for refugees in Cairo, where she has started schools and a nursery.
More about Caroline Moorehead...
A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France Dancing to the Precipice: Lucie Dillon, Marquise de la Tour du Pin and the French Revolution Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val D'orcia

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