City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp (Hardcover)
"City of Thorns is a compelling and haunting account of life in the refugee settlement of Dadaab, an isolated city located in Kenya, that was born of many a crisis. This city of refugees was initially created in 1992 as tens of thousands of refugees fled the civil war in Somalia, and now in 2016, it is home to roughly half a million people. Security forces,
supported by the United States and Great Britian, prey upon the populace with violence and extortion. Forbidden to leave the camp and unable to work, they are a largely forgotten populace. Although I hesitate to compare one book to another, it has rightly been compared to Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Rawlence, a former Human Rights Watch researcher, follows nine families to bring attention, and humanity to the plight of those forgotten in Dadaab. A must read that puts a spotlight on the current refugee crisis."
Named a 2016 Best of Book of the Year by The Economist
To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a 'nursery for terrorists'; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort.
Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education.
In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.
About the Author
BEN RAWLENCE is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa. He is the author of Radio Congo and has written for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and Prospect. He lives in the Black Mountains in Wales with his wife and daughter.