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Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur Cover

ISBN13: 9780345506252
ISBN10: 0345506251
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Like the single white eyelash that graces her row of dark lashes–seen by her people as a mark of good fortune–Halima Bashirs story stands out. Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivors tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and the uncompromising spirit of a young woman who refused to be silenced.

Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima was doted on by her father, a cattle herder, and kept in line by her formidable grandmother. A politically astute man, Halimas father saw to it that his daughter received a good education away from their rural surroundings. Halima excelled in her studies and exams, surpassing even the privileged Arab girls who looked down their noses at the black Africans. With her love of learning and her fathers support, Halima went on to study medicine, and at twenty-four became her villages first formal doctor.

Yet not even the symbol of good luck that dotted her eye could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her land. Janjaweed Arab militias started savagely assaulting the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashirs village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events.

In this harrowing and heartbreaking account, Halima Bashir sheds light on the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives being eradicated by what is fast becoming one of the most terrifying genocides of the twenty-first century. Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is more than just a memoir–it is Halima Bashirs global call to action.


"Tears of the Desert" is that rarest of literary endeavors, not just a book you read but a book you experience. Halima Bashir's story of growing up in the Zaghawa tribe of Darfur is vivid, poignant and brutally candid. It is also, simply, brutal. When she describes (with the expert help of her co-writer) the life of her remote desert village, readers will not want to put the book down. When she turns... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)


In this first memoir of its kind from a woman affected by the war in Darfur, a female doctor in Sudan shares her harrowing tale of courage, hope, family, and survival.

About the Author

Halima Bashir lives with her husband and son in England, where she continues to speak out about the violence in Sudan.

Damien Lewis has spent the last twenty years reporting from war zones in Africa, with a particular focus and expertise in Sudan. His reporting from Darfur won the BBC One World Award. He is the internationally bestselling co-author of Slave, winner of the Index on Censorship Book Award.

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yourotherleft, November 3, 2008 (view all comments by yourotherleft)
When Halima Bashir leaves her small, isolated Zaghawa village for school in a neighboring larger town, it doesn't take her long to figure out what she wants to do with her education. Bashir dreams of being a medical doctor who can return to her village and help her people. Despite growing tensions and racial discrimination between the majority black Africans and minority Arabs of Sudan, Bashir's intelligence and hard work combined with her father's love and support enable her to follow her dream to university in Khartoum. After attaining her degree, she returns to her village and to the town where she originally attended school where she serves as a trainee doctor, but life as she knew it is already changing.

Rumors are afoot of deadly groups of Arabs fighting a "Holy War" against black African "infidels," and as Halima helps to treat everyone regardless of color or creed who arrives at the accident and emergency ward of the hospital, the growing danger and atrocity become all too apparent. When she dares to speak out to a newspaper reporter about the things that she sees even in the most vague terms, beating and interrogation soon follow. But it is not until she is assigned to head a clinic in another remote village that the truly dire circumstances of the violence the Arabs are unleashing in Darfur really begin to reveal themselves.

I can't say enough about Tears of the Desert. After the first chapter, I was entirely taken in, basking in Bashir's rich early memories of her family, her village, and her childhood. Each of her relatives and friends is so well described and her love for them so obvious that it almost feels like knowing them personally. Bashir's tales of growing up paint her as an outspoken smart and strong girl who won't accept anything less than her due who reaches adulthood as a smart, strong, and stunningly courageous woman determined to help her people and her homeland despite great personal risk.

One could hardly expect a book about such a difficult topic to be so compulsively readable, but this one is. Make no mistake, parts of this book are gut-wrenchingly difficult to read, but Bashir's honesty and unflinching attention to detail is entirely necessary. Bashir's is a powerful and an important tale and is fully equipped to be a significant part of showing people what is going on in Sudan and motivating people around the world to do their part to stop it.
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Product Details

A Memoir of Survival in Darfur
One World
Lewis, Damien
Halima Bashir, with Damien Lewis
Bashir, Halima
Lewis, Damien
Personal Memoirs
Ethnic Cultures - General
Africa, north
Africa, east
Sudan - History - Darfur Conflict, 2003-
Genocide - Sudan - Darfur
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.55 x 6.4 x 1.1 in 1.2 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Africa » General
History and Social Science » Africa » Sudan
History and Social Science » World History » General

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur
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Product details 336 pages One World - English 9780345506252 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In this first memoir of its kind from a woman affected by the war in Darfur, a female doctor in Sudan shares her harrowing tale of courage, hope, family, and survival.
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