Sunday, May 24, 2009

The internets are out to get me...(Book review: Emma's War)

...or, at least that's what it has seemed like this afternoon. I have a whole list of interesting links saved on a draft email that I can not get to.

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Recently finished: Emma's War, by Deborah Scroggins. Non-fiction account of the 80's and 90's in Sudan, as seen via focus on a British aid worker who married a south Sudanese warlord.

Emma McCune was born and raised in Yorkshire, England, but fell in love with the idea of Africa. In tracing her path through the tangle of Western relief agencies, end-of-the-cold-war international politics, and the hair-tearing snarl of Sudan's civil war, the book is part history lesson, part cautionary moral fable, part biography, part travel-writing, and part romance.

It's about as confusing, frustrating, and anti-inspiring as you would think. Quite gripping writing, and the people involved are facinating. But I remember enough of the famines of east Sahara to be furious that nothing better came of the fighting, the relief efforts, and the aid shipped in by Western nations.

Emma's War asks more questions than it answers. It fails to have a happy ending, it fails to show the good guys winning, and in some ways it has neither good guys nor an ending.

As a sidenote to the larger drama of Emma McCune's life, the author makes note of a family of British Quakers, Chris and Clare Rolfe. The Rolfes came to the Sudan to start a micro-loan program among the refugee camps, as they had in other famine-struck regions. They were killed in 1988 in a bombing carried out by Palestinians connected with AQ. There were seven people killed - among them five British - by a bomb thrown into a hotel dining room.

Four of those British were the Rolfes - Chris and Clare, and their three year old son, and year-old daughter.

The suspects were caught, tried, and convicted. Sudanese law offered two choices - a blood price to the families of the dead, or execution. The Rolfes' families - non-violent Quakers - refused both. The families of the Sudanese killed accepted the blood price, and the convicted murderers walked out of the courthouse free men.

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I don't know how to start praying about that. Or about the larger scope of the wars in Sudan. Or Afghanistan, or any of the dozens of little ugly wars that never make it to the headlines, so that I can walk through the day, unware of the specifics of other people suffering, dying, torturing, and killing.

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Catholic Bridge - an information site about the Catholic faith, aimed mostly at non-Catholic Christians and intended to unwrap some of the questions that divide us.

1 comment:

Emma said...

You know, I think I read a novel recently that was based on this story, or something very similar.

Hope life is going okay where you are. ((((you))))

- me