A Look at Genocide, Part 2: Darfur Book Recommendations

I recently read The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari (read my review here) and already had Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle on my reading list this year. I realized that I do not know enough about the current events in Darfur. And I’d like to. This is an issue that I would like to explore more.

Why? Because this is going on right now!

And it’s a topic that utterly fascinates me. I’ve come up with a list of book recommendations to help me (and perhaps you) to help shed me of my ignorance. And then I can help to do my part in my little corner of the world. Some are memoirs, some are essays, some are photography books, and I’ve also included some documentaries as well.


Book Cover:  The Translator by Daoud HariThe Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari
From the publisher: The young life of Daoud Hari—his friends call him David—has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure. He is a living witness to the brutal genocide under way in Darfur.

The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing, and deeply moving memoir of how one person has made a difference in the world–an on-the-ground account of one of the biggest stories of our time. Using his high school knowledge of languages as his weapon—while others around him were taking up arms—Daoud Hari has helped inform the world about Darfur.

Hari, a Zaghawa tribesman, grew up in a village in the Darfur region of Sudan. In 2003, this traditional life was shattered when helicopter gunships appeared over Darfur’s villages, followed by Sudanese-government-backed militia groups raping and murdering citizens and burning villages.

Though Hari’s village was attacked and destroyed, he was able to escape and lead survivors to safety. When international aid groups and reporters arrived, Hari offered his services as a translator and guide. He risked his life again and again, for the government of Sudan had outlawed journalists in the region, and death was the punishment for those who aided the “foreign spies.” And then, inevitably, his luck ran out and he was captured. . . .

The Translator tells the remarkable story of a man who came face-to-face with genocide– time and again risking his own life to fight injustice and save his people.

For more information visit the book’s website here.
I’ve reviewed this book here.


Book Cover:  Not On Our Watch by Don CheadleNot On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle

From the publisher: While Don Cheadle was filming Hotel Rwanda, a new crisis had already erupted in Darfur, in nearby Sudan. In September 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell termed the atrocities being committed there “genocide” — and yet two years later things have only gotten worse. 3.5 million Sudanese are going hungry, 2.5 million have been displaced by violence, and 400,000 have died in Darfur to date.

Both shocked and energized by this ongoing tragedy, Cheadle teamed up with leading activist John Prendergast to focus the world’s attention. Not on Our Watch, their empowering book, offers six strategies readers themselves can implement: Raise Awareness, Raise Funds, Write a Letter, Call for Divestment, Start an Organization, and Lobby the Government. Each of these small actions can make a huge difference in the fate of a nation, and a people — not only in Darfur, but in other crisis zones such as Somalia, Congo, and northern Uganda.

For more information visit www.notonourwatchbook.com


Book Cover:  Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan by Leora KahnDarfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan by Leora Kahn

Synopsis from Amazon: Winner of the 2007 Lucie Award: Power House Books for Photography Book Publisher of the Year
In June 2007, Power House Books released Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan, a collaboration with three humanitarian organizations and five of the world’s top photo agencies. The book, filled with haunting images and testimonials that displayed the desperate and severe reality of the Sudan crisis, sold out its initial run in just a few months, helping to raise much-needed money for this desperate cause. Now, Darfur arrives in paperback.

Even by conservative estimates, the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is grave. There are 3.5 million people who are hungry, 2.5 million who have been displaced by violence, and 400,000 individuals who have died since the crisis began in 2003. The international community has failed to take steps to protect civilians, or to influence the Sudanese government to intervene.

Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan is the product of a close partnership between Amnesty International USA, Proof: Media for Social Justice, and the Holocaust Museum Houston. Featuring the work of eight prominent photographers, the book covers three periods in the Sudan crisis, including images shot in 1988, when an estimated 250,000 Sudanese died of starvation; images from 1992 and 1995 that capture the atrocities of a civil war, when hundreds of thousands fled their homes to other destinations in Sudan or left the country altogether; and images from 2005 and more recently, bringing to light the severity of the humanitarian crisis underway, with the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias committing systematic violence on the people of Darfur.

The book includes website links and additional resources for readers to utilize in seeking an urgent, immediate, and international call to action and to raise awareness of this human suffering. ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE BOOK WILL BENEFIT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA AND GENOCIDE INTERVENTION NETWORK.


Book Cover:  Darfur: A New History of a Long WarDarfur: A New History of a Long War by Julie Flint & Alex de Waai

From the publisher: Written by two authors with unparalleled first-hand experience of Darfur, this is the definitive guide. Newly updated and hugely expanded, this edition details Darfur’s history in Sudan. It traces the origins, organization and ideology of the infamous Janjawiid and rebel groups, including the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. It also analyses the brutal response of the Sudanese government. The authors investigate the responses by the African Union and the international community, including the halting peace talks and the attempts at peacekeeping. Flint and de Waal provide an authoritative and compelling account of contemporary Africa’s most controversial conflict.


Book Cover:  Darfur, Darfur by Leslie ThomasDarfur Darfur by Leslie Thomas (editor)

From Amazon: DARFUR/DARFUR: LIFE/WAR is a powerful collection of images from some of the world’s most celebrated photojournalists who have documented an ongoing genocide that has claimed more than 300,000 lives and has displaced about 2.5 million people.

Launched in September 2006, Darfur/Darfur, the exhibit to which the book is the companion, consists of over 150 color and black-and-white images by seven international photojournalists and one former U.S. Marine and has gained massive national and international attention. It has been shown in museums such as the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Eastman House, Rochester, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., and the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Future venues include the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and FORMA, Milan. In January 2007, Darfur/Darfur became the first exhibit on the crisis to be presented on the African continent.

Visit www.darfurdarfur.org for more about the exhibit tour dates and the book.


Book Cover:  African Genocide (in the News) by John XavierDarfur: African Genocide (In the News) by John Xavier

From the publisher: Both timely and enduring, this book explores the current and continuing Darfur conflict and provides the historical context. While explaining the background behind this violent conflict and the various causes that have contributed to it, it explores geography, environmental hardship, religion, national and regional politics and government, and the development of rebel resistance groups. It also describes the international reaction to the violence, and talks about what the future might hold. (For young adults)


Book Cover:  Darfur by Paolo PellegrinDarfur by Paolo Pellegrin

From the publisher: An unnatural disaster is devastating the Darfur region of Sudan, where civilians are fleeing in terror from government-supported mass killings. Thousands are dead and millions have been forced from their homes. Millions more are at risk. In 2005, Human Rights Watch investigators began giving children paper and crayons to keep them occupied while they gathered testimony from the children’s parents. Without any instruction, the children drew harrowing and heartbreaking accounts of what they had witnessed: brutal attacks by government-sponsored militias known as Janjaweed, indiscriminate aerial bombings by Sudanese government forces, shootings, burning of entire villages and flight to Chad.

Photographer Paolo Pellegrin traveled to Sudan first in 2005, and again in 2007, to expose the consequences of the ongoing human rights crimes fueling this catastrophe.

Now, Human Rights Watch combines these graphic accounts in Darfur: Smallest Witnesses, featuring an introduction by Nicholas Kristof and first-hand accounts and essays by Human Rights Watch investigators.


Book Cover:  Darfur DiariesDarfur Diaries: Stories of Survival by Jen Marlowe and Aisha Bain and Adam Shapiro

From the publisher: In November 2004, three independent filmmakers traveled to eastern Chad and crept across the border into Darfur. Improvising as they went, they spoke with dozens of Darfurians, learning about their history, hopes, and fears, and the resilience and tragedy of their everyday lives.

In February of 2003 following years of oppression, the Sudan Liberation Army in Darfur took up arms against the Sudanese government. The response to the rebellion was a brutal campaign by the government and allied militias of mass murder, rape and the wholesale destruction of villages and livelihood. Millions of people were displaced, and hundreds of thousands killed.

This book introduces us to those who remain: the refugees and displaced people, civilians and fighters resisting the Sudanese government, teachers, students, parents, children and community leaders, whose collective testimonies provide the heart of Darfur Diaries. Their stories, interwoven with the filmmakers’ own personal narratives and conveyed with political and historical context, provide a much-needed account to help understand the tragic situation in Darfur.

Visit www.darfurdiaries.org


Book Cover:  Educating Darfur Reugees by Patrick SamwayEducating Darfur Refugees: A Jesuit’s Efforts in Chad by Patrick Samway

From Amazon: As a result of the genocide in Darfur, tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee Sudan and seek refuge in overcrowded, desolate desert camps along the Chadian border. Educating Darfur Refugees is the unforgettable journal of a Jesuit priest who spent nine months in 2004 and 2005 working in three of those refugee camps. Samway’s diaries, deeply informed by his perspective as a religious scholar but as engrossing as any page-turner, are an unflinching eyewitness account of one of the greatest tragedies of our time.

Charged with the considerable task of setting up schools for refugee children, Samway recounts his experiences with scarce food and water, nonexistent educational resources, and the remarkable people he encounters along the way. The life-changing story that unfolds, an engaged personal narrative capacious enough to embrace both George Bernanos and Walker Percy, is necessary reading for anyone concerned about Sudanese refugees and those who share their plight all over the world.


Book Cover:  War in Darfur and the Search for Peace by Alex De WaalWar in Darfur and the Search for Peace by Alex De Waal (editor)

From the publisher: Since 2003, the Darfur region of Sudan has been the locus of a hideous war that has aroused the outrageof milions of ordinary people across the world. But despite a high level of media coverage and activist mobilization, Darfur’s society and politics remain poorly understood. War in Darfur and the Search for Peace brings together essays by noted Sudanese scholars and international experts on Darfur, containing much new historical and contemporary research.


Book Cover:  The Devil Came on Horseback by Brian SteidleThe Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur by Brian Steidle

From the publisher: Former United States Marine Brian Steidle served for six months in Darfur as an unarmed military observer for the African Union. There he witnessed first-hand the ongoing genocide, and documented every day of his experience using email, audio journals, notebook after notebook and nearly 1,000 photographs. Gretchen Steidle Wallace, his sister, who wrote this book with Brian, corresponded with him throughout his time in Darfur. Fired upon, taken hostage, a witness to villages destroyed and people killed, frustrated by his mission’s limitations and the international community’s reluctance to intervene, Steidle resigned and has since become an advocate for the world to step in and stop this genocide. The Devil Came on Horseback depicts the tragic impact of an Arab government bent on destroying its black African citizens, the maddening complexity of international inaction in response to blatant genocide, and the awkward, yet heroic transformation of a formerMarine turned humanitarian. It is a gripping and moving memoir that bears witness to atrocities we have too long averted our eyes from, and reveals that the actions of just one committed person have the power to change the world.


Book Cover:  Darfur's Sorrow by MW DalyDarfur’s Sorrow: A History of Destruction and Genocide by M W Daly

From the publisher: Darfur is a region set apart, huge, remote and poverty stricken. Its people are today locked in conflict, terrorized by the lawless Arab militia known as janjawid. As M.W. Daly explains, the roots of the crisis lie deep in Darfur’s past. Tracing the story from the origins of the Fur state in the seventeenth century to Darfur’s annexation by the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, he shows how years of neglect left the region unprepared for independence. This complex story is told with compassion, insight and a strong sense of place.


Book Cover:  The Sudan Project by Melissa LeembruggenThe Sudan Project: Rebuilding with the People of Darfur-A Young Person’s Guide by Melissa Leembruggen

From the publisher: The Sudan Project helps make children aware of the devastating effects of poverty and war in Sudan, as well as the suffering of Darfur’s people. As current as today’s headlines, this significant work seeks to stir the conscience of an awakening America. The book focuses on the plight of the people of Darfur and encourages hope that they can flourish through the help readers can provide. Such organizations as the United Nations and UMCOR are working to provide relief to this forgotten region. For ages 9–12.

Based on the experiences of The Sudan Project mission by Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, OH, The Sudan Project has raised over $1.6 million for Darfur relief since 2004. A portion of the proceeds from this book go to help the people of Sudan through The Sudan Project. For more information, visit The Sudan Project.


Book Cover:  Tears of the Desert by Halima BashirTears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir

Available September 2008.


Book Cover:  A Long Day's Dying by Eric ReevesA Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide by Eric Reeves

From the publisher: The main theme of this new book is that the Khartoum regime is committing genocide in Darfur while the international community watches in silence or with mere hand-wringing.

Publication of such an important book, at this critical moment in the Darfur genocide, offers to government officials, academics, humanitarian aid groups, human rights organizations, as well as to the broader public an in-depth critical assessment of the current situation in Darfur. It also provides an unsparing assessment of the international community’s diplomatic efforts, past and present, to respond to Darfur. Such an assessment comes at a defining moment. The world is watching clearly and yet responding weakly. Action is essential now if we are not to see a further extension of the international failures so conspicuous in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Visit www.sudanreeves.org


Book Cover:  Heart of Darfur by Lisa BlakerHeart of Darfur by Lisa Blaker

From the publisher: Lisa arrives in Sudan full of determination to use her skills as a nurse to do something to ease the plight of the hundreds of thousands of people caught up in the civil war raging through Darfur.

She is working with Medecins Sans Frontieres, the international organization that sends health workers to the most desperate places in the world. The nine months she spends on the mission will be the toughest of her life but will teach her some fundamental truths about what people are capable of, both good and bad, and about herself.

Lisa describes treating children with horrific wounds, babies dying of dehydration, girls giving birth at the age of 13 and old women too traumatized to carry on living. Her relationships with her Sudanese colleagues are treasured and described in fascinating detail. The book is exquisitely written, without sentiment but with a powerful and moving determination to show the suffering of the people of Darfur and to bear witness to their remarkable courage in the face of the most appalling situation.

This is the book to help us all understand the human story behind the newspaper headlines.


DVD Cover:  Darfur NowDarfur Now (DVD – 2008)
Making a difference. Now. This acclaimed inspiring documentary follows six people who are striving to end the suffering in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur. The six American activists, an international prosecutor, a Sudanese rebel, a sheikh a leader of the World Food Program and Don Cheadle who traverses the globe with fellow actor George Clooney to pressure world leaders demonstrate the power of one individual to make extraordinary changes. Be an eyewitness to the tragedy and the triumphs the fear and the pride. Meet the refugees determined to return to their beloved homeland. And discover how you too can make a difference.

Official trailer:


DVD Cover:  Darfur Diaries:  Message from Home Darfur Diaries: Message From Home (DVD – 2006)

From Amazon: This is a brutally honest look into the current tragedy befalling the Darfur region. A team of three independent filmmakers in Darfur monitored the worsening political and humanitarian crisis in 2004 and recognized that the mainstream media offered marginal and inadequate coverage. They set out with the goal of providing a platform for the people of Darfur to speak for themselves about their experiences their fears and their hopes for the future


DVD Cover:  Sand and SorrowSand and Sorrow (DVD – 2008)

From Amazon: This 94-minute documentary details the historical events that have given rise to an Arab-dominated governments willingness to kill and displace its own indigenous African people while examining the international communitys ?legacy of failure? to respond to such profound crimes against humanity both now and in the past. Offered exclusive and unparalleled access to the situation on the ground inside Darfur Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Paul Freedman joins a contingent of African Union peacekeeping forces in Darfur while a tragic and disturbing chapter in human history unfolds. As we see while the heroic men and women of this undermanned under-funded mission brave harsh conditions and unfettered violence as many as 2.5 million displaced persons have no choice but to settle inside squalid camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad to wait and hope for a resolution that may be years away.


DVD Cover:  A Journey to DarfurA Journey to Darfur (DVD – 2007)

A short twenty minute video as actor George Clooney and his father travel to Darfur to shed light on the current genocide.


DVD Cover:  The Devil Came on HorsebackThe Devil Came On Horseback (DVD 2007)

An up-close honest and uncompromising look at the crisis in Darfur THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK exposes the ongoing tragedy in Sudan as seen through the eyes of one American witness.Using the exclusive photographs and first hand testimony of former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle the film goes on an emotionally charged journey into the heart of Darfur Sudan where in 2004 Steidle became witness to a genocide that to-date has claimed over 400000 lives. As an official military observer Steidle had access to parts of the country that no journalist could penetrate. Unprepared for what he would witness and experience Steidle returned to the U.S. armed with his photographs intent on exposing the images and stories of lives systematically destroyed.A 2007 world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this astonishingly propulsive and dramatic film from award-winning filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (The Trials of Darryl Hunt) is a heartfelt account of what this particular American witness saw and just as important what he did afterward

Official trailer:


DVD Cover:  ABC News Nightline, The SudanABC News Nightline The Sudan (DVD – 2007)

From Amazon: ABC News correspondent David Wright and his team traveled the length of Darfur, which is the size of Texas in a country that is the largest in Africa. At least 200 people a day are dying in the refugee camps of Darfur, and yet the refugees keep on coming. And while the relief organizations are doing all they can to help them – many parts of Darfur simply cannot be served because the conflict is raging and those areas cannot be safely reached. Nightline examines the crisis that has been identified, by many as nothing short of genocide and explains the political, strategic and logistical obstacles that stand in the way of solving this man-made disaster.


For more information about what you can do to help those in Darfur, visit www.savedarfur.org

I don’t know about you but I’m committing to read Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival by Jen Marlowe and Aisha Bain and Adam Shapiro, Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle and watching Sand and Sorrow. It’s a start. I did not cover books about the Lost Boys, those afflicted by war in the southern region of Sudan. I intend to cover this at a different time.

I’ll be suggesting book recommendations for a different genocide each Monday as part of a 8-10 weeks series. Read part one here for book recommendations about genocide in general.


  1. I’m so glad you are doing this series, Natasha. Darfur, especially, has long been on my mind and I’m really heartened to see there ARE so many books on the subject–this is a relatively new phenomenon. I’d include Eggers What Is the What (which I reviewed over at my blog and I think you linked at your Book Reviews Site) even though it is technically “fiction.” The narrative voice is fictional, but the experience is not (and comes directly from one of the Lost Boys).
    Thank you for all the reading recommendations.

    on May 26th, 2008 at 4:36 am
  2. What a great list, Natasha. Thanks!

    on May 26th, 2008 at 5:38 am
  3. I’m pretty ignorant on this subject, and the collection of titles you present here is fantastic! Thank you for sharing them with us.

    on May 26th, 2008 at 6:40 am
  4. Thanks for putting together this list, Natasha! The only one I’ve read is The Translator, but I will definitely be adding a few of the others to my TRB pile.

    on May 26th, 2008 at 7:51 am
  5. Thank you for putting this list together. I read What is the What, which is fiction as Rebecca mentions above, earlier this year and it was really my first exposure to the situation in Sudan. I’ve heard peripheral things about it in the news over the years, but must admit I never paid much attention until reading Eggers’ book.

    on May 26th, 2008 at 12:54 pm
  6. I specifically did not include What is the What by Dave Eggers because although it takes place in Sudan, it does not deal directly with the events that are in Darfur. Most of the lost boys came from the southern region of Sudan, while Darfur is in the northwest region of the country. I hope to do a post in the future about the lost boys because that in itself is a whole other subject.

    on May 26th, 2008 at 5:34 pm
  7. Hi from Vice,
    we thought you might be interested in watching “Inside Sudan”,our documetnary on Darfur and the secret oil wars in the middle of the desert. It ‘s featured on VBS.TV and you can watch it here:

    Feel free to share any of our content.

    on May 27th, 2008 at 8:29 am
  8. I think it is great that you are putting these lists together. I have not read any of these and have added some titles to look for next time I am at the library.

    on May 27th, 2008 at 12:19 pm
  9. Jeanette – I just hope I don’t send us all into a spiraling bought of depression. But I think it’s issues like these that need attention.

    Vice Magazine – Excellent documentary. I encourage all of my readers to follow the link above to watch the video. I’ve put the intro here:

    on May 27th, 2008 at 9:43 pm
  10. I’ve been reading your “series” and it really makes me want to read The Translator NOW. Thanks for enlightening us.

    on May 28th, 2008 at 4:58 am
  11. I love this new feature on your blog. I’ve written a few of these titles down (and some from the genocide list as well) to check out from the library. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile, reading more about current events, and your lists have been so in-depth. So thank you.

    on May 29th, 2008 at 1:42 am
  12. [...] A Look at Genocide, Part 2: Darfur Book Recommendations [...]

    on June 29th, 2008 at 7:11 pm
  13. What a great list. I read The Translator earlier this year and thought that it was an amazing read. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the other books on this list.

    I have the Don Cheadle book…now might be a good time to read it.

    on September 1st, 2008 at 6:46 am
  14. [...] Darfur book and video recommendations Don’t forget for each video or book you read, I’ll donate 50 cents to an organization that makes a difference for Darfurians.  If you have a blog and you review that book or video I’ll donate 50 cents more.  Think of it as a mini-challenge.  Plus, one of the points is to have you learn something and to share that with your friends, family and blog readers.  All of these are also listed in my Amazon store. [...]

    on September 1st, 2008 at 12:18 pm
  15. [...] 50 cents for each movie watched or book read from this page – donating $1 if those books or movies are reviewed on someone’s [...]

    on September 3rd, 2008 at 1:10 pm
  16. I just watched the documentary on Vibe. That was interesting. I thought that Darfur’s genocide was close to what Rwanda went through with their tribal war. I read ‘Left to Tell’ by Immaculee Ilibagiza.

    I was kind of surprised that the root of the problem is over oil. It seems like they–the government or oil companies–do a pretty good job of keeping their true motives a secret. I felt pretty sad over all the trash in the streets and the kids addicted to glue. I was also pretty nervous that those guys would go to jail, but pretty lucky that they escaped.

    on September 3rd, 2008 at 3:06 pm
  17. Oh excuse me, the documentary from Vice–not Vibe. My mistake.

    on September 3rd, 2008 at 3:07 pm
  18. My copy of Tears of the Desert came today and it was a LibraryThing Early Reviewer book, so I will DEFINITELY be reviewing it this month. In fact, I think I’m going to start it tonight so I can have it reviewed by Tuesday when it is released. It can keep the other two books I’m reading company.

    on September 4th, 2008 at 2:33 pm
  19. I finished reading The Devil Came on Horseback. I had intended to read the Don Cheadle book but I don’t think I can squeeze it in and since the availability of Darfur resources is somewhat limited for me, I also watched the Vice Magazine video series.

    on September 26th, 2008 at 7:43 am
  20. [...] i really want to read something about darfur.  i missed the reading for darfur month (it was september) but i still want to educate myself about this. what these people have [...]

    on September 30th, 2008 at 2:31 pm
  21. [...] just came out this month.  Written for the 14-17 age level, it’s a great new addition to the library of Darfur reading, especially for [...]

    on September 30th, 2008 at 10:53 pm
  22. There are two more books that definitely belong on this list of books on Darfur:

    GENOCIDE IN DARFUR: INVESTIGATING ATROCITIES IN THE SUDAN edited by Samuel Totten and Eric Markusen. New York: Routledge, 2006.


    on April 12th, 2010 at 7:21 am

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