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War Games: The Story Of Aid And War In Modern Times
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War Games: The Story Of Aid And War In Modern Times

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  164 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
From Rwanda to Afghanistan, from Sudan to Iraq, this brilliantly written and at times blackly funny work of reportage shows how the humanitarian aid industry, the media and warmongers the world over are locked in a cycle of mutual support.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Viking (first published April 19th 2010)
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Natan
Living in Israel, you learn that every word written in newspapers regarding the troubles in the Middle East must be taken with a heavy dose of salt, for example when various groups seeking nothing but mischief and/or violence are called "aid organizations", and missions whose conscious objectives are supplying terrorists are described as "humanitarian", even when large amounts of weapons are among the "aid." You also learn to be extremely cynical, to say the least, about anything regarding the U ...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Polman is clearly rather embittered about the less than efficient aid industry, judging from the near endless list of anecdotes she parades past. Interesting though they are, they also quickly feel old. Sure, aid can be much more efficient and, sure, all the little NGOs should more often band together and present a united front to avoid being used and abused by those in control of the areas they are trying to provide for, hut Polman annoyingly is very scant on providing solutions, meaning that t ...more
Saba Malik
Jul 15, 2013 Saba Malik rated it really liked it
really takes you out your naive bubble of feel good beliefs, and makes you realise what the aid industry has truly become despite many good intentions, it is a business and an instrument of war, Where human angle is used to fit part of the story to serve ends far from equitable and benign.
Andrea
May 11, 2012 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Not an eye-opener (I was already aware of many facts here) but equally impressive. Read it before opening your wallet for the next "humanitarian emergency".
Jake
Jun 20, 2011 Jake rated it really liked it
My best friend's sister lent me this book, most likely in hopes that I'd understand more about the humanitarian world, and I have to say it was much more beneficial to read than I had originally anticipated. I honestly had expected a list of factoids assembled in an effort only to bash Bush and any other Republicans in power at the time of its publishing. I was very wrong. This piece is very fair and informative. While not alleviating any one person of fault, it is obvious that Linda Polman's in ...more
Ryan
Apr 21, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it
This slender volume is a brilliant exposé of the various dysfunctions of the humanitarian aid (and development) industry, and it has earned a place on my shelf alongside Rupert Smith's "Utility of Force." Anyone who thinks simply investing more in humanitarian aid will lead to world peace would do well to read this book. War Games is investigative journalism, not an academic treatise, so while it's certainly well-researched, Polman is not pretending to be impartial, comprehensive, or to provide ...more
SpaceBear
I was very excited to read this book, and have to say that I felt very let down by it. If one were to believe the view of humanitarianism painted in this book, one would only see rich white people in business suits (the author actually makes the absurd claim that humanitarians are more likely to be working in suits than in the field), and that NGOs hire "aid angels" (i.e. hot women) to appear in camera in complex emergencies in order to get more funds. The author also fails to distinguish betwee ...more
Vikki
Aug 11, 2011 Vikki rated it it was amazing
In this brilliant eye witness account of the humanitarian aid industry, journalist Linda Polman gives us a glimpse into the problems faced by humanitarians all over the world whilst trying to prevent and alleviate human suffering. Polman guides us, at times not so gently, into understanding that the aid industry is not at all how it is portrayed by the media.

Insisting that aid organisations are 'businesses dressed up like Mother Theresa', Polman discusses the possibility that aid can be used as
...more
Madeline
Aug 06, 2014 Madeline rated it liked it
The book shows a ton of criticism to the current humanitarian industry, and gives plenty of reasons to back up said criticism, but lacks any concrete suggestions toward a solution.

If you are looking for a source to back negativity towards the aid industry, she gives great substance. Be prepared for a long disaster filled history lesson...which is really just telling you how the world works, she's on point with that one.

That being said...she clearly makes her case and has valid reason to do so.
...more
Yana Shevkirova
Mar 22, 2014 Yana Shevkirova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very provocative account on everything that has happened during the years of humanitarian aid supply and distribution. Seems to me that it can easily become rather disturbing for most of the people, who still hold an altruistic vision and believe in the principles of organisations such as the Red Cross. Good examples of how aid can become politicized and how it can be used as a tool of war.
Very, very disturbing, shocking at times and unforgettable, I'd say.
Alex Maxwell
Sep 08, 2013 Alex Maxwell rated it it was amazing
Great expose of the development environment and how it is practiced. It has made me more sceptical and will make me question even more how my actions impact development on the ground. The research is extensive and the book is really well written considering the subject matter I flew through it. It's an essential read for anyone pursuing a career in humanitarian aid and who wants to know more about how aid is implemented and practiced.
Manuel
Jul 17, 2013 Manuel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
One of the most interesting book I've read recently.
If you've ever thought about donating or helping for an international cause, especially when it comes to material aid, have a look at this book.
It's quite short, and explains how inevitable it is that most of the money ends up in the wrong people's pockets, and sometimes worsens the local situation. It encourages the reader to think about media reporting on humanitarian crises, and to ask the right questions.
Tom
May 14, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing
Essential reading.

Highlights deep corruption in much humanitarian work. This brings it to life much more than someone saying, it is a problem. The inevitable conflict and use of aid agencies that arises when they are a major potential source of income.

Very sad, many anecdotes. At times gets repetitive, which in itself illustrates how many saddening examples of what humanity becomes in war.
Matt Reynolds
Oct 27, 2015 Matt Reynolds rated it really liked it
It's not as easy as just giving humanitarian aid. Giving aid sometimes means lengthening civil wars, supporting oppressive regimes and helping people that committed genocides before helping their victims.
David Smith


This is a preaching-to-the-converted sort of book. There wasn't much that I hadn't heard or experienced. Anger was mixed with laughter. I laugh because of the absurdity and I am angry because of the constant Catch-22. What to do! Bottom line - it had to be said.
Liisa
Jul 16, 2012 Liisa rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening look at some of the problems with the aid 'industry', I kept reading paragraphs of this aloud and irritating people, highly recommended!
VL
Mar 14, 2011 VL rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book - Linda Polman is excellent. No nonsense, frank reporting. Not an academic read, but she gives the reader a good sense of on-the-ground reality and frustration.
Jane Walker
Jun 12, 2012 Jane Walker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-non-fic
Short but very much to the point, this is an examination of the aid industry. It should make all of us think about the moral dilemma in giving aid which prolongs and funds conflicts.
Hannah
Hannah rated it it was amazing
Jun 14, 2016
Dominic Goncalves
Dominic Goncalves rated it it was amazing
Mar 30, 2015
Sabine Dittrich
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Mar 22, 2015
Meghna
Meghna rated it it was amazing
Jun 12, 2013
Nikolai Lang
Nikolai Lang rated it it was ok
Jan 08, 2013
Marina Morales
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Jan 04, 2013
Mary
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Aug 31, 2013
Ian
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Feb 16, 2013
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Jul 02, 2012
Michele
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Apr 12, 2012
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