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Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur
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Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  1,732 ratings  ·  225 reviews
Like the single white eyelash that graces her row of dark lashes -- seen by her people as a mark of good fortune -- Halima Bashir's story stands out. Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivor's tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and the uncompromising spirit of a young woman who refused t ...more
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by One World/Ballantine (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra Xtra Crunchy
If you are a pc sort of person, this book is going to piss you off no end.

No nation or religious group is allowed to be blamed for anything its members might do unless the national or religious designation is qualified with the words, "fundamentalist", "extremist" or similar, so that we all may know that the other nationals or co-religionists are not themselves terrorists and do not support such actions). This applies even when we know they do by their attendance at rallies, their votes for pol
...more
Penny
This is not for the faint-hearted.

An autobiographical account of the war in the Darfur region of Sudan, seen through the eyes of a woman who becomes a doctor. The book starts very gently, depicting the beautiful community in which Halima grows up. Her village is filled with characters and steeped in her Zaghawa culture. The community collectively raise children, neighbours and relatives are all closely involved in everyone's life. Perhaps in the west we would find this intrusive but it is portra
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William
If ever there was a book that fit the description "life changing" than this is that book. Dr. Bashir writes elegantly about her idealic (almost too fantasticly perfect) youth and upbringing in the as yet war torn southern Sudan. Her peaceful, intelligent and wealthy father. Her quiet and nurturing mother and her traditional and fierce, warrior of a grandmother all live in harmony with nature and each other. Then like a sudden thunderbolt her peace is shattered not by war but the insiduous tradit ...more
Chrissie
I highly recommend this book to all those wishing to know more about the Darfur Conflict / Darfur Genocide that began in 2003. The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) accuse the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese, i.e. the black Africans of Sudan. When Britain left Sudan they left it in the hands of the Arabs. The guerrilla conflict is between the blacks and the Arabs of Sudan. The Arabs had been a nomadic people, the blacks were farmers. With the support of the Sudanese government, ...more
Ksab
Wow-Another story of our AFrican brothers and sisters killing each other!1 This was a poignant first person account of Bashir's middle class-albeit village(her Dad had houses in the nearby town-hundreds of livestock,a Landrover-the first TV in the village)idealistic-family oriented upbring-A feisty young lady bestowed with a lucky charm of a white eyelash-Halima was the first girl in her village to attend elementary school and highschool in the city. This book showed that many Muslim societies i ...more
Anna
One of those books that should inspire me to volunteer with the local refugees. This is a horrendous story of the life of a Darfuri survivor who's only desire is to become a doctor to help people in her village. Instead she is lied to, cheated, threatened, forcibly moved, beaten, raped, and hunted. It is an incredibly infuriating story that embarassingly brings hatred to my life. It would be a strong person indeed who could read this book and not be moved. After blowing the rest of the female st ...more
Meghan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Parri Sontag
This is a difficult book to read, but if you want an insiders view of what has transpired in the Darfur region of Sudan over the last decade, this is it. I was so truly touched by the simplicity of life in Halima Bashir's tribal village ... and so taken back and personally devastated by the government-backed genocide that wiped out her village and brought brutality into her world that no one should ever know

It's appalling that genocide like this still exists today and while these types of books
...more
Rachel
i knew little about darfur and the conflict there before i read this book. i would say it's an easy way to learn about the general relations and cause of conflict in the country, tied up in a very disturbing and personal account of one woman's life before and during the genocide. i cannot imagine the amount of courage it must have taken halima bashir to write this book. you cannot help but be moved by this book. not only will it shock you when you read what human beings are capable of doing to e ...more
*•.♥.•*Sabrina Rutter*•.♥.•*
Words escape me right now. This woman's story is one of the most tragic I have ever read in my life. My God, human endurance knows no bounds...All I can say is read this book!
Mary
Utterly unputdownable.
Debbie Blane
A difficult book to read in terms of content, I read it in one day (or night) so it is a fast read. The author did a really good job of setting up the context, explaining how peaceful her life and world were before the regime in Khartoum began the process of exterminating the black Africans in Darfur. At a point in the book she realized that the war against her people had to do with their being black Africans and not Arabs, President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum was a Muslim killing other Muslims. ...more
Louise
Halima Bashir is one of millions caught up in this tragedy. If not for the combination of her personal skills (academic excellence, fortitude, stamina) and her very supportive father this story would never have been told.

Halima's girlhood is a stunning narrative, and worth a read in and of itself. This unique glimpse into village life has well defined characters and reflects a strong but changing culture. There is a stubborn grandmother who wants the old ways but accepts the radio. The successfu
...more
Nykki
An honest depiction of one woman's life in Darfur - going from her happy (albeit rough) childhood, to the wariness of the coming war, to torture, abuse, and rape, to her escape and struggle for asylum in England.

"So they had come for my early. So what? The country was burning. Children were being gang raped. Evil stalked the land. Sooner or later all of us Zaghawa, Fur, Massalit - all of us black dogs and slaves - were going to suffer. You might be lucky and live. You might be luckless, and die.
...more
Kristianne
It seems like it takes popular authors like Dave Eggers to convince people to read books about Africa.
Halima Bashir's memoir also takes place in Sudan and addresses the terrible reality of ethnic conflict, centering on the Darfur region where she spent her childhood. This is a difficult story for obvious reasons. Bashir presents us with the violence, rape, confusion and helplessness we would expect in the memoir of a woman from Darfur. But, she also manages to instill some hope simply in the st
...more
Lesblick17
I really liked this book. She tells the story of her life growing up in a small village, going off to school to become a doctor, and how her life was impacted by the Darfur crisis. I find reading stories like this to learn about a political situation is easier than reading a full-fledged history book, which can sometimes be dry. However, I kind of wish she had included more political information in the book, so that we had a better sense for the various factions and issues involved, and how she ...more
Barry
Feb 07, 2009 Barry added it
Shelves: public-affairs
This is the story of a survivor of the government of Sudan's policy of genocide against the black Sudanese in Darfur. The government attacks with weapons bought from China and paid for with oil sold to China. The United Nations is powerless because of the influence of China. Over 400,00 people have died and 2.5 million suffer in refugee camps.

Here 's Nicholas Kristof's article about the book in the New York Times.
Penny
I love memoirs. I really love well written memoirs. The writing is way above par unlike some other memoirs that are simply endless pages of facts. Bashir's book is so engaging! She relays the life she lost so well that, up until all hell broke loose, you are envious of her humble beginnings. I really enjoyed discovering what life growing up in an African village was like and I truly grieved when that life was shattered in yet another African nation.
Emily
A beautifully done memoir about an African girl from a small village in Sundan, who becomes a medical doctor and if forced to flee during genocide. I'll admit, I didn't know a lot about the conflict in Sudan prior to reading this book, but it made me want to learn more. It's amazing how awful humans are to one another. But, the escape was only a small piece of Bashir's life, and a small piece of this wonderful story.
Dogluver
OMG!!! I finished reading this book about a week ago and it was so sad! Halima definitely experienced a lot and I'm glad she's taking a stand in stopping the genocide in Darfur. Before I read this book, I didn't even know about Darfur, let alone the ongoing genocide. It's taught me a lot about what's going on over there and has encouraged me to be more aware of what's going on in the world.
Alexandra
Bashir shares her terrifying story of living in Darfur from discrimination by Arabs because of her skin color, to gang rape, to her entire village being destroyed. She paints a beautiful picture of her tribe's life before the attacks begin. Bashir explains all foreign terms in the book and includes a glossary.
Ruth
By far, one of the most brutal, tragic, and inspiring memoirs of Darfur so far! I was moved to tears for her losing her family and the horror she endured. If this doesn't inspire you to take action for Darfur, then I don't know what will.
Denise
A very moving account. Made me angry and sad. How can people be so cruel, even evil? This is perhaps the worst kind of example of what happens when people regard those not of their group as "other" and less than human.
Sherry Dollhopf
Another book that gives victims of genocide a voice and highlights how difficult life is even after the refugees escape the violence. The strength this women displays is absolutely amazing.
Marie
As a grand daughter of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, this book helped me to have a deeper understanding of what the women can go through during such horrible events.
Julianne Dunn
Oof this was hard to read, emotionally and psychologically. The beginning of Dr. Halima Bashir's story is clearly a story of privilege, with a very progressive father who wanted his smart daughter to become a doctor. As she grows up and faces discrimination, she tries to keep her head down and ignore the growing differences between Arabs and Darfuri and overcomes several instances of racism. She regularly refers to the jihad and the violence but it seems far away. You get a sense of an encroachi ...more
Jill
A horrifying autobiography on a woman's experience of Darfur. I found the afterword particularly powerful. Halima cites several different sources of quotes on the situation in Darfur and how it continues to worsen. She also offers an explanation of China's involvement in Sudanese politics and why there has been such delay - why the Janajaweed ordered to the Hague haven't been brought in, etc. It's a surprisingly unemotional bio considering how poignant the recounting of it is. By unemotional, I ...more
Madae
Halima Bashir's memoir of life in Darfur is a powerful and heartbreaking story. Her childhood in a small village was happy, full of Zaghawa traditions. Her father was quite progressive in that he encouraged Halima's independence, her thirst of knowledge and sent her away to school and university. At junior school Halima first experienced the racism between the Arab Africans and Black Africans. The Darfur conflict started to intensify while Halima was studying in university. After becoming a doct ...more
Lynn
Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir is a heartrending account of the genocide in Darfur. However, the first half of the book is about Halima's happy childhood in a village with few amenities. Her father was the biggest influence on Halima's success with his belief that girls need an education too and that Halima would someday be a doctor. Going away to school was tough on this child with such a close bond to her family. School is where she first encountered racism. Halima Bashir was undeterred, ...more
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir is a very emotional and riveting book. I found this book very painful to read at times, yet I couldn’t put it down, even though I was sobbing at some points. I was lucky enough to receive this Random House publication from the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program.

It seemed that Halima Bashir was born lucky. She is from Darfur, a region of Sudan, and a member of the Zaghawa tribe, and was born into a family that was wealthier th
...more
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Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

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