Synopses & Reviews
Christopher Award Winner
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Washington Post Top 100 Books of the Year Selection
A stunning literary survival story of three young Sudanese boys, two brothers and a cousinhailed by the Los Angeles Times as a moving, beautifully written account, by turns warm and tender.”
Between 1987 and 1989, Alepho, Benjamin, and Benson, like tens of thousands of young boys, took flight from the massacres of Sudans civil war. They became known as the Lost Boys. With little more than the clothes on their backs, sometimes not even that, they streamed out over Sudan in search of refuge. Their journey led them first to Ethiopia and then, driven back into Sudan, toward Kenya. They walked nearly one thousand miles, sustained only by the sheer will to live.
They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky is the three boys account of that unimaginable journey. With the candor and the purity of their childs-eye-vision, Alephonsian, Benjamin, and Benson recall by turns: how they endured the hunger and strength-sapping illnessesdysentery, malaria, and yellow fever; how they dodged the life-threatening predatorslions, snakes, crocodiles and soldiers alikethat dogged their footsteps; and how they grappled with a war that threatened continually to overwhelm them. Their story is a lyrical, captivating, timeless portrait of a childhood hurled into wartime and how they had the good fortune and belief in themselves to survive.
A moving, beautifully written account, by turns raw and tender
”Los Angeles Times
[The authors] accounts, written first in lesson books and then on computer have been skillfully put together in a narrative, each boy carrying both history and that of their joint flight and reunion forward. The result is both fascinating and immediate, not least because of the guilelessness of the language and the particularly African use of metaphor and imagery
.They Poured Fire
conjures up a world of marabou storks, acacia trees, termite mounds taller than men, scorpions and snakes that move in the dark, a world governed by traditions, rituals, seasons, weather, and obligations.”New York Review of Books
[T]ender and lyrical
one of the most riveting stories ever told of African childhoodsand a stirring tale of courage
.Anyone interested in Africa, its children or the human will to survive should read this book. This beautifully told volume
will remain on my desk for years to come.”Washington Post
[L]ovely and unusual
that can help readers understand events in Sudan on a human level. But They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky is no mere historical document; it is a wise and sophisticated examination of the arbitrary cruelties and joys of being alive.”Star Tribune
Their words speak for those who no longer have a voice. Their story will take the reader on a trip not soon forgotten of spirits unwilling to be broken.”San Antonio Express-News
Their serious tone, broken by the occasional wry smile, memorializes their parents, the land and animals that wove the tapestry of their early childhoods
One reviewer called the book deceptively understated, But the soft plainness of the young writers voices, combined with their moral insight, throws the surreal danger and strife into sharp relief.”San Diego Union-Tribune
[They Poured Fire] is an amazing account of boys who managed to survive a terrifying ordeal
theres a kind of haunting beauty to their story
After reading this book, readers may feel like theyve been on an adventureor in hell, depending on your point of view. Whatever the case, this book is an eye-opener.”Rocky Mountain News
[T]he book is at once an important addition to the contemporary dialog on world affairs and a surprisingly lyrical account of coming of age under adverse conditions
These folkloric memoriesreplete with lions and circumcision ritualsdescribe a world centuries removed from the high-tech industrialization of Western society. But they years of war also have bestowed wisdom, and simple observations of childhood are seen now through different eyes
” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
[The book] represent[s] genuine, heartfelt examples of what war does to young people and how they may adjust to life outside the country of their birth, especially the social and intellectual problems they experience.”Deseret Morning News
In a harrowing account of the war, three young refugees in California
remember how they were driven from their homes in Southern Sudan in the ethnic and religious conflicts that have left two million dead. They tell their stories quietly with the help of their mentor, coauthor Judy Bernstein, in clear, interwoven, narratives that put a personal face on statistics.”Booklist
[W]ell written, often poetic essays
this collection is moving in its descriptions of unbelievable courage.” Publishers Weekly
The memories of the horrors they facedfrom hunger, thirst and desert conditions to the constant terror and death they witnessedtumble forth, raw and fresh, on the pages.”MSNBC.com
[H]eartbreaking, stunning book.”Good Times Santa Cruz
As the news of Darfur demonstrates, Sudan is still in crisis. But these authors made it to the US 14 years after their personal horror began. Their lives are still not easy, but they endure.”Book Page
[T]he trios lyrical eloquence, combined with the gut-wrenching clarity of their recollections, powers this testament to human endurance in the face of overwhelming trauma.”East Bay Express
The inspiring story of three young Sudanese boys who were driven from their homes by civil war and began an epic odyssey of survival, facing life-threatening perils, ultimately finding their way to a new life in America.
Between 1987 and 1989, Alepho, Benjamin, and Benson, like tens of thousands of young boys, took flight from the massacres of Sudan's civil war. They became known as the Lost Boys. With little more than the clothes on their backs, sometimes not even that, they streamed out over Sudan in search of refuge. Their journey led them first to Ethiopia and then, driven back into Sudan, toward Kenya. They walked nearly one thousand miles, sustained only by the sheer will to live.
They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky is the three boys' account of that unimaginable journey. With the candor and the purity of their child's-eye-vision, Alephonsian, Benjamin, and Benson recall by turns: how they endured the hunger and strength-sapping illnesses-dysentery, malaria, and yellow fever; how they dodged the life-threatening predators-lions, snakes, crocodiles and soldiers alike-that dogged their footsteps; and how they grappled with a war that threatened continually to overwhelm them. Their story is a lyrical, captivating, timeless portrait of a childhood hurled into wartime and how they had the good fortune and belief in themselves to survive.
They were all under the age of seven when they were driven from a war-ravaged country. In this deceptively understated memoir, three boys recall in their own words their harrowing journey to safety.
About the Author
and Benson Deng
and their cousin Benjamin Ajak
left the Sudan in 1987, and were relocated in 2001 from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to the United States as part of an international refugee relief program. Today, Alephonsian Deng attends San Diego City College and works in the Medical Records Department at Kaiser Permanente Hospital. He has spoken to many schools, universities, clubs and organizations about his extraordinary story in Africa and adapting to his life here in America. Benson Deng runs the computer and digital photography system at Waste Management in El Cajon, CA. Benjamin Ajak resides in San Diego and speaks full time to organizations and schools, sharing his amazing life and insights into surviving as a child of war and a newcomer to the U.S. Judy Bernstein is a mother, writer, Student Advisor for the Community Economic Development Department at San Diego State University, volunteer mentor and Chair of the Advisory Committee of the San Diego International Rescue Committee and co-founder of the IRC Lost Boys Education Fund. She speaks with her co-authors to community groups, temples, churches, and schools.