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Still Counting the Dead

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  311 ratings  ·  46 reviews
"An extraordinary book. This dignified, just and unbearable account of the dark heart of Sri Lanka needs to be read by everyone." — Roma Tearne, author of Mosquito

The tropical island of Sri Lanka is a paradise for tourists, but in 2009 it became a hell for its Tamil minority, as decades of civil war between the Tamil Tiger guerrillas and the government reached its bloody c
Paperback, 286 pages
Published October 13th 2012 by Anansi International (first published September 1st 2012)
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Frances Harrison
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
BBC TV broadcast a documentary in Nov 2013 by me, looking at rape and torture post war in Sri Lanka. Perhaps you'd like to watch it - Sri Lanka's Unfinished War. In a way it's a sequel.

Also if you're interested in learning more please check out the book website for background information regarding the war.
Sairam Krishnan
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sri Lankan Civil War remains the bloodiest of modern conflicts, and its horrifying stories are still spilling out of the devastated beaches of the country’s north. More than 40000 Tamil civilians were shelled to death and murdered by the Sri Lankan Army on a small stretch of beach where the Tigers made their last stand. The Tigers sandwiched the civilians between them and the advancing Lankan Army, hoping to attract international pressure over civilian casualties, so the Army would back off. ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This brought me to tears, stirring up inside me a passion for justice. Read this book if you care about injustice.
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent account of the civil war that explains a conflict little understood in this country. The human cost of the war is plainly exposed, mostly through the first-person accounts of survivors. A very important book, a must for anyone seeking to understand Sri Lanka, or indeed war itself.
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very well written. It must have been an effort to trace the few survivors in various countries across South Asia and Europe and get them to share their traumatic experiences. It shows the extent to which the Sri Lankan government went to mislead its own citizens, not that neighboring governments do not. It also shows the ineffectiveness of the UN bureaucracy and the practical approach that agencies like Red Cross had to adopt. Subsequent events including disappearance of journalists - both Tamil ...more
Nallasivan V.
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is no other better source of information on war than first hand accounts. All human endeavours can be seen in two levels: at the human scale and the bigger picture. But of all human endeavours, War is probably the only one where the bigger picture cannot be justified by ignoring the things at the human scale. Frances Harrison illustrates this very clearly with her book. It is a collection of stories of real people - mostly civilians and a few Tamil Tigers - during the last few months of th ...more
Vijay Raj
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book gives the real-life experiences of different tamil/non-tamil civilians/commoners who were caught in the cross-fire of the final war against the LTTE. Here are some really gory accounts of the war crimes committed by the LTTE and the srilankan army. The book is well-written, and I am surprised about the completely un-biased stance that the author takes, although it seemed to me that the book was slightly bent against the srilankan army. This may still be reflecting on reality though.

Matthew Griffiths
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was an excellent account of what surely must be one of the least known and arguably most horrific conflicts to take place in recent years.

One thing that struck me from a very early stage of reading this book is that the author maintained an incredibly unbiased account of things considering what she was describing, never shying away from placing the relevant blame at the door of the LTTE as well as at the door of the Sri Lankan army. Also another thing which was clear throughout the bo
Wilfred Arasaratnam
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Stalin said that "One death a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic" and I suppose the difficulty for many with getting their head around accounts and histories of genocide and persecution is the sheer scale of the horror. In this balanced, well-written and authoritative book, Frances Harrison has managed to overcome the paradox that Stalin mentioned by documenting survivor testimony in a compelling from nine survivors of the final months of the conflict.

Frances deftly weaves fact with evoca
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"It was a world in which death was so omnipresent that few expected to walk out alive."

Harrison manages to take the experiences of a handful and turn them into the voices of the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught between two ruthless factions determined to fight until the end. These civilians were failed by those who claimed to be fighting for them, their country, and by the international community as a whole.

Especially frustrating is the fact that even today, civilians continue to suffer
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tales of unspeakable horrors endured by Srilankan Tamils during the civil war. Even as I was reading several real life account I was constantly reminded of how truth is stranger than fiction. It takes a lot of gunption to have survived the bloody war and more so to recount it. History tells us about gruesome wars of the past, the arson, pillages, rapes and murders but very few have survivors' accounts captured to this detail. And this detail chills you to the bone not just because of how many hu ...more
Kathryn Cousins
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
An incredibly moving compilation of accounts of survivors of the Sri Lankan war.
It is not a history of the war so doesn't offer reasons Or politics or insight; it is merely what it says it is in the introduction. Memoirs of those who survived, to give them a voice.
The world didn't care about the thousands of Sri Lankan civilians who were killed in the war; if you read this you will be sad that you were probably part of this world who turned a blind eye.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An utterly devastating and sobering account of Sri Lanka's civil war. A necessary if difficult read. ...more
Sumit Singla
Having recently been to Sri Lanka on a mini-vacation, one would hardly imagine that less than a decade ago, this serene and lovely island was deeply mired in a devastating civil war. A war where the army used its power to crush not only the Tamil militants, but also countless innocent civilians.

Some of the incidents are plain shocking and inhuman. And what saddens me is the fact that some of Sri Lanka's neighbours (including my home country, India) and also world superpowers turned a blind eye t
Rachel Wilce
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not really much of a non-fiction reader, usually choosing a book for an escape, but planning a trip to Sri Lanka later in the year meant that I picked up some recommended Roma Tearne novels, which led finding myself hungry for information about this terrible war that had so little documentation in the mainstream over here in the comfort of the UK. I found this book shocking, upsetting, very well written and compulsive reading. A must read I think for anyone planning a trip over there, I find ...more
Chisato Oguma
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It took forever to finish the book. The stories of the Tamil survivors were too painful to read. But I felt obliged to read cover to cover especially because I needed to explore the truth behind the beauty and prosperity of the country that we see today as visitors. The atmosphere of this country that the government is advertising is now hopeful, but I cannot help but agree with the conclusion of the book: "It's unrealistic to expect survivors just to put the war behind them... The risk is that ...more
Rahul Sharma
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent account of the Sri Lanka's civil war. The first-person accounts of survivors exposes the human rights violations by the Sri Lanka army & government and how the "so-called" international human rights organizations failed to do anything. The spine chilling stories shake you up to the core. The book presents a balanced view as it talks about the human rights violations by the Tamil rebels also. As an Indian, I feel sorry that we did so little to stop these crimes happening in our neigh ...more
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A book filled with troubling accounts on the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Extreme cruelty and barbarism by the the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka directed against Tamil civilians and Tamil militant groups. Rape, murder and Torture appear to be the calling cards of the Sinhalese putting them on an even footing with the Nazis, Serbian extermination groups and the Pol Pot. Remember the name: Sri Lanka - Asia's Torture chamber. ...more
Chris Steeden
Unbelievable. That is the only way to start my review of this book. The facts of the end of the civil war and the survivors stories are not for the faint-hearted but must be told. The Tigers and the Government both get the bad press in this book. The outright killing of civilians should never be accepted but this happened and in the tens of thousands as well. As I said - Unbelievable.
Sudharsan Saravanan
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is particularly very sad to read accounts of war crimes committed by both Sri Lankan army and LTTE. It is even more sad to find out that these cruel acts of impunity still continue. Manik refugee farm and the makeshift hospitals and churches hit by shells and shrapnel are all vividly described. What this book achieves best is that it provides an unbiased view of the whole scenario.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very harrowing read. It took a while for me to finish because I found it difficult to read more than 30-40 pages at a time due to the nature of the subject matter *note the book is about the last days of the war from the perspective of various survivors and NOT a history of the war*
Kannan Ekanath
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Brutal.. I now have to read something totally light-weight to compensate ....
Murali Krishnaa
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Random collection of information about what has happened in the srilankan crisis which is told by real people who lived at the time of war. Very well organised and written
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very unbiased and well presented account of the Sri Lankan option. All different stories and first-person accounts are tied together quite well and substantiated with facts.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
horrific stories but as a Canadian I am proud to have offered so many Tamils a new home, in Canada and in Toronto. I wish we didnt have to
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Sad, but necessary reading, especially considering the current events surrounding Australia's attitude toward Tamil asylum seekers. ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful testament to those who suffered, and who continue to suffer, from a 30 year civil war that was largely ignored by the rest of the world.
By the recounting of individual stories, the book brings a human element to this tragic period in world history, and shows the true consequences of the inaction and shameful behaviour of the UN and other self-proclaimed humanitarian agencies, who could predict the holocaust that was about to ensue, and even in its aftermath, accepted garlands from th
Jake S
An amazing book that communicates the utter horror of war and this conflict. It makes a convincing argument that the more genocidal aspects of the conflict have been covered up by the government and ignored by the diplomatic community.

The break down of war crimes and how each effected different groups of people was interesting.

The book could have done with more context to the conflict allowing a lay reader to understand the timeline of events preceding 2009. It would have also benefitted from
Dylan Keith
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
A gruelling insight into the final stages of a modern civil war whose human cost seems to have largely gone unnoticed by the global community; a textbook example of how history is shaped by the way its victors choose to present it.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The mere fact that you need to put down the book and contemplate what has happened shows and proves volume and bounds.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Whar happened at the END of May 2009? 1 4 Jun 20, 2014 07:14AM  
Independent sources please? 1 6 Feb 04, 2014 07:23PM  
Many ask 'what can I do about this?' 2 5 Dec 05, 2013 10:24AM  
Independent documentary on Sri Lanka? 1 3 Sep 19, 2013 10:13PM  

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