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Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-Torn Village

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  860 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
An inspiring story of one doctor’s struggle in a war-torn village in the heart of Sudan

In 2007, James Maskalyk, newly recruited by Doctors Without Borders, set out for the contested border town of Abyei, Sudan. An emergency physician drawn to the ravaged parts of the world, Maskalyk spent six months treating malnourished children, coping with a measles epidemic, watching f
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Spiegel & Grau (first published April 14th 2009)
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Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the main reason I’m drawn to books like these is because I want to be reminded that, in spite of whatever it is you’re going through, there’s a reality out there that’s much more harsh and difficult to swallow.

When I was in journalism school, we had this one exercise where the prof showed us a picture of a baby with obvious physical abnormalities born in the aftermath of Chernobyl.

“Is this the sort of thing that we should be putting on the front page?”

This girl who used to sit next to me
It's interesting how many reviewers comment on how hopeless and repetitive Maskalyk's experiences were. That is the nature of grinding poverty (it's not called "grinding" for nothing). That is the brutality of war. The terrible difficulty people face when they work in this situation, perhaps hoping to "solve" something, is that they discover they are so busy dealing with the alligators that they have no time to drain the swamp. I often think that those who create or enable this level of chaos sp ...more
Lana Del Slay
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: done-reviewed, owned
Do you know how to fall in love with someone you've never met?

You read his book. This book.

I came to Maskalyk's writing from his blog, which is itself a thing of beauty and you can find it if you Google "suddenly sudan". Don't let it redirect you! You want the man from MSF, not the sitcom. So I read his blog, and I read his other blog (Dial 'D' for Dadaab, if I remember correctly). (I must be the only person left online who writes out "if I remember correctly".)

And just like that, I regretted m
" Jika kau merasa hidupmu terasa singkat, datanglah ke Abyei"

Dr. James Maskalyk, seorang dokter relawan berkebangsaan Kanada menjalankan misi kemanusiaan di Abyei, Sudan. Beliau dikirim oleh sebuah LSM Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) atau Doctors without Borders, sebuah LSM pemberi bantuan kesehatan yang memerangi penyakit-penyakit endemik di negara-negara berkembang atau negara yang mengalami konflik. Dr. James melewati hari-harinya dengan merawat dan mengelola sebuah rumah sakit yang berada dit
This book is a memoir recalling James Maskalyk's experiences as a MSF doctor working as a physician for six months in Sudan. The account is well written and provokes a sense of emotion as Maskalyk talks about the dire conditions of war, disease and poverty in Sudan. He describes his situation in Sudan as a kind of lingo, where at one moment he wants to escape and go back home, and the next, he wants to stay to help the patients. I can compare this book to so many I have read where volunteers or ...more
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer09
Just finished this yesterday.

It is curious to be critical of a current event book about tragedy this way, but here goes.

Unlike many books of a similar subject matter, Maskalyk keeps to understanding the situations happening in Sudan to what he sees and does firsthand. There is less omniscient voice used than is perhaps usual for a book of this genre. In a way, the technique (whether he knew it or not) lends a real sense of both credibility and humanity to the writing. Not that the work isn't bel
Nick Marsh
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially I was irritated by this book; the author seemed self-righteous and self-absorbed. However, I quickly warmed to his style, and realised that his writing was very honest, and very raw. An unflinching look at the toll on both the mind and the heart of working for an NGO in extremely difficult circumstances. No, he didn't integrate with the natives, and no, he didn't change things like he wanted to, but Maskalyk has my respect as an honest writer and a far, far better human being than I am ...more
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author has achieved a lot without coming off as racist, condescending or overly privileged as some of the other MSF memoirs do. I was sitting on giving this book 4/5 stars until I read the final few pages about the author trying to adjust to life back in the privileged world. The ending and revealed fate of the mission was devastating and while I dislike the idea of created drama or getting off on tragedy, the writing was probably at its best in the final few pages.
Sharon Peters
Too much swearing at the beginning. I would have liked to read more detail on the patients in Sudan.
Travis Lupick
This review was originally published in the Georgia Straight newspaper.
Abyei is a small town in a disputed border region between north and south Sudan. There, stuck between two opposing military compounds, is an underfunded Doctors Without Borders outpost where Toronto-based emergency physician James Maskalyk spent half a year in 2007. Emotional and beautifully written, Maskalyk’s account of life in Abyei humanizes one of the most terrible places on Earth. His memoir describes tragedy in a way t
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James is a physician and author, both of the international bestseller “Six Months in Sudan” and more recently, “Life on the Ground Floor“. He practices emergency medicine and trauma at St. Michael’s, Toronto’s inner-city hospital and is an award winning teacher at the University of Toronto.

He directs a program that works with Ethiopian partners at Addis Ababa University to train East Africa’s firs
More about James Maskalyk...
“Answer me something. This life, where you get to meet people and know them, and become friends, and then in a few days or a few weeks, either they leave or you it worth it? I am not sure. I think so. Maybe having your heart broken like that is what keeps it open.” 2 likes
“People who do this type of work talk about the rupture we feel on our return, an irreconcilable invisible difference between us and others. We talk about how difficult it is to assimilate, to assume routine, to sample familiar pleasures. The rift, of course, is not in the world: it is within us....The world is a hard place -- a beautiful place, but so too an urgent one. ... Once that urgency takes hold, it never completely lets go.” 1 likes
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