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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

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,349 Ratings  ·  253 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 2008)
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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 03, 2013 Penny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-challenge
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
Irene Mcintyre
Apr 09, 2015 Irene Mcintyre rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, memoirs
When I really enjoy a book I will add a passage into my little review as I will do here.

"The war continued on during my final year at university (she is studying to become a medical doctor -- rare for a black African "from the bush" in her country) and war seemed to have overridden everything, making years of study seem somehow so irrelevant. My final-year tutor tried to encourage me. I had attended each and every one of my lectures and he knew that I stood to do well. Those students who skippe
Jul 07, 2009 William rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 15, 2014 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
The writing skills are more than adequate but not at a 5 star level, but little else could push me to cut this one from the full load reward. Good Earth, and Snowflower and the Secret Fan territory here.

Halima tells her own life's story in this non-fiction memoir of her girlhood in Darfur and the events she experienced until 2011. No spoilers, and that is no easy feat. But this book holds incredible honesty from the heart AND from the intellect.

Reading like an Anthropology Ethnography of her Zag
Apr 22, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
Utterly unputdownable.
Oct 09, 2008 Ksab rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 10, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it
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
Jul 15, 2008 Meghan rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Parri Sontag
Mar 28, 2013 Parri Sontag rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2010 Rachel rated it it was amazing
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
Janet Damon
Jan 10, 2015 Janet Damon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: survival
This memoir by Halima Bashir is all about love, family, war, and survival both from the worst physical violence but also the psychological battles one faces. Beginning with a childhood so beautifully cultivated by an adoring father and mother, a fierce grandmother, and her fun loving siblings, cousins, and neighbors, I found myself laughing out loud at all tales of her childhood adventures. Soon my daughters wanted to hear the story and we enjoyed the first third of the book together. But no mor ...more
✟Sabrina Rutter✟
Aug 21, 2012 ✟Sabrina Rutter✟ rated it it was amazing
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!
Debbie Blane
Aug 07, 2011 Debbie Blane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, africa, sudan
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
Jill Robbertze
Nov 01, 2015 Jill Robbertze rated it it was amazing
This was a very harrowing book to read. At times I had to take a break as it was so painful but at the same time this is a book that needs to be read and the world needs to know that these horrific things have happened and continue to happen. This is the true story of one woman's experience and escape from the genocide in Darfur. This book has changed the way I look at refugees and made me more sympathetic to their plight. It has also left me sickened at what some humans can do to others.
Jul 03, 2010 Nykki rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jan 18, 2014 Lesblick17 rated it really liked it
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
Eugenia Kim
Dec 02, 2015 Eugenia Kim added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Halima Bashir tells her story in the familiar memoir style of a coming of age narrative, except hers is the rarely heard story of the revered Sudanese subculture of the Zaghawa, a family’s love and the demise of both in the harrowing tragedy Darfur. Most striking besides the horrors of genocide she experienced and painfully describes, are the gentle yet fierce relationships she portrays within her family—mostly that between daughter and an aristocratic, wealthy and generous father who always bel ...more
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.
Sep 02, 2012 Malyn rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful book. Bashir is one of the rather rare memoirists who are true writers - her story was gripping and the way she told it was very well done. It was extremely difficult emotionally, but a story that needs to be told. And I liked the way she analyzed her own Zaghawa culture, the things that are wonderful and those that aren't, bringing it to life. I now want to go and investigate and learn more about the genocide, and find other perspectives as well.
Aug 20, 2012 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it
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.
Feb 21, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 30, 2009 Dogluver rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 27, 2011 Alexandra rated it liked it
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.
Mar 20, 2011 Ruth rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 26, 2010 Denise rated it really liked it
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.
May 31, 2012 Katharine rated it really liked it
This is an important read--a story we all need to hear. It can be hard to continue at some parts because it is a very honest retelling and the content is difficult to deal with. Beautifully written though, glad I read it.
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