With Gretchen Steidle Wallace
Natasha has been hosting the
Reading and Blogging for Darfur event at her blog this whole month. I wanted to actively read and watch a lot of videos this month but unfortunately couldn’t do as much as I wanted. Luckily, one of the books I had ordered got to me before the end of the month. So I sat down to read “The Devil Came on Horseback”. I had read Natasha’s review of this book over at her blog and that was one of the reasons I definitely wanted to read this one. And I am glad I did. Once again, thank you Natasha!
What is the best way to know more about everything happening in
Darfur, you might wonder. Well, how about a book written by someone who was there, someone who interacted with both sides of the fight, someone who took pictures of everything happening there, someone who made notes of every incident he witnessed, etc etc?? You basically get what I am trying to say, right? There couldn’t be a better way to get to know about the happenings in Darfur than to read “The Devil Came on Horseback”.
Brain Steidle is a former United States Marine. He goes to
for a year as an unarmed military observer for the African Union. His job was to go with his team and record the incidents he witnessed all over Sudan . After spending a relatively quiet few months in the Sudan Nuba Mountains, he requests a move to Darfur. His frustration at not being able to do anything to help better the situation in Darfur is obvious through the book. The helplessness he feels when he looks into the eyes of the poor villagers who think that he might just be able to help them is so palpable. But given his situation, Brian does the best he can in his own way. He records every incident, every conversation, every scene in the form of reports, photographs, letters to his sister Gretchen, audio notes, etc. And then, he wrote a book to convey the message to everyone else in the world. I think what he’s done is so commendable.
If you are expecting a dry, boring, documentary reporting mass killing, rape and other atrocities, you are soo wrong. The book is actually well written and very interesting. It is quite a page turner. Personally, I felt the first part of the book, before he goes to
Darfur seemed kinda slow. But the minute he landed in Darfur, I couldn’t put the book down. I just had to read and read and read and grasp every word he had to say. Some of the things that he had to say, I already knew… Many other things shocked me. The images in the book were heart-wrenching and I would be lying if I said that the book hasn’t affected me.
The one thing that troubled me was his faith in the American Government. Throughout the book he keeps mentioning things to the effect that if the information actually got to the
US government then they would immediately do something to better the situation in Darfur. Did he actually think the folks sitting here have no idea of what is happening in Darfur? Well, it is not just the government. It is governments all over the world. Somehow, everyone has decided to ignore the happenings in US Darfur. Atrocities committed against the tribes in Darfur are so inhuman and should never be permitted. It is disgusting how things like this are going on for years and years and no one seems to be doing anything about it!
It is hard to imagine that this book is actually a memoir- that events described here are not figments of imagination from a psychotically deranged brain. They are actual events appening in a different part of the world. People are starving, getting killed mercilessly, getting raped, being turned out of their homes right as I type this review. It is really hard to imagine that everything said in the book is true.
Brain’s job is to act as an unbiased recorder of the incidents he witnesses. But throughout the book, it is obvious that he has taken a side. I do not know if that is good or bad. I have no idea if the actual scenario is that clear cut. Is there actually a “good vs bad” situation in
Darfur? I think that’s just not possible. I might be just naïve here. I have no idea about what I am talking. Is it THAT obvious that there is one side is right and one side is wrong? If the situation was that obvious, won’t something be done about it already?
On the whole, I would totally recommend this book to everyone. In fact, not just to people interested in knowing about what is happening in
Darfur but to EVERYONE. I think it is important to be aware of things that are happening all around us.I know this has been made into a movie as well. So if are you not really a book person (Wait, then what are you doing in my blog??) then you should get yourself a copy of the dvd to watch!
Well, please feel free to leave your comments here. I would love to hear what you think about this. If you have also read this book, do send me a link to review and I’ll add it to this post.