Children Are Diamonds: An African Apocalypse



This Is Not The Africa Of Isak Dinesen, Nor The Africa Of Joy Adamson This Is The Africa Of Civil Wars And Tribal Massacres, Where The Lord S Resistance Army Recruits Child Soldiers After Forcing Them To Kill Their Parents And Eat Their Hearts The Aid Workers Who Voluntarily Subject Themselves To Life Here Are A Breed Of Their OwnMeet Hickey, An American School Teacher In His Late Thirties, An American School Teacher Who Burns His Bridges With The School Board And Goes To Africa As An Aid Worker Working For An Agency In Nairobi, One Of His Jobs Is To Drive Food And Medical Supplies To Southern Sudan To An Aid Station Run By Ruth, A Middle Aged Woman, Who Acts As Nurse, Doctor, Hospice Worker, Feeder Of Starving Children, And Witness Ruth Is Gruff But Efficient, And Hickey, Who Is Usually Drawn To Youth And Beauty, Is Struck By Her Devotion Returning To Nairobi, He Can T Forget What He Has SeenWhen The Violence And Chaos In The Region Increase To A Fever Pitch And Aid Workers Are Being Slaughtered Or Evacuated, Hickey Is Asked To Save Ruth Overland By Jeep What Happens To Them And The Children That Have Joined Their Journey Is The Searing Climax Of This Novel Hoagland Paints An Unflinching Portrait Of A Living Hell At Its Worst, And Yet Amid That Suffering There Is Hope In The Form Of Humility, Sacrifice, And Life Affirming FriendshipChildren Are Diamonds: An African Apocalypse

Edward Hoagland born December 21, 1932, in New York, New York is an author best known for his nature and travel writing His non fiction has been widely praised by writers such as John Updike, who called him the best essayist of my generation.

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  • Kindle Edition
  • 240 pages
  • Children Are Diamonds: An African Apocalypse
  • Edward Hoagland
  • English
  • 14 July 2019
  • 1611459346

10 thoughts on “Children Are Diamonds: An African Apocalypse

  1. says:

    Hoagland is better known for his many books of essays and nature writing than his novels, but Children are Diamonds demonstrates that this eighty year old gentleman has what it takes.From the first sentence on the first page one is sucked into that maelstrom of war and senseless violence in east central Africa South Sudan, Congo, Uganda It grabs one by the throat and does not let go.Some have found the pace slow Yes, it is But in the heat in that part of the world nothing moves quickly, e Hoagland is better known for his many books of essays and nature writing than his novels, but Children are Diamonds demonstrates that this eighty year old gentleman has what it takes.From the first sentence on the first page one is sucked into that maelstrom of war and senseless violence in east central Africa South Sudan, Congo, Uganda It grabs one by the throat and does not let go.Some have found the pace slow Yes, it is But in the heat in that part of the world nothing moves quickly, except the aggressor and death And Hoagland describes the geographical surroundings in such detail, demonstrating his familiarity with the terrain he has visited many times and for which he still has great affection.The all too common violence is not especially graphic except for the denouement , so one cannot or might not become inured to it.The first person narrative is so gripping, I often forgot I was reading a work of fiction.And there was hardly a page where I had to take a break, lest I burst into tears.I dare say there will be those who will not like the book because they do not like the subject matter.But read Hoagland for his style, for it is incomparable

  2. says:

    Hoagland weaves a realistic if dismal and disheartening portrayal of Africa and its Aid agencies while maintaining a tiny spark of hope in that there are and perhaps always will be those willing to help, even if for bad reasons Ruth, a Christian Aid Doctor, and Hickey, the narrator, a wanderer, teacher and occasionally exploitative man, are our main characters Hickey and Ruth face unimaginable and yet mundane for Africa problems as they respond to a new threat What makes the story compell Hoagland weaves a realistic if dismal and disheartening portrayal of Africa and its Aid agencies while maintaining a tiny spark of hope in that there are and perhaps always will be those willing to help, even if for bad reasons Ruth, a Christian Aid Doctor, and Hickey, the narrator, a wanderer, teacher and occasionally exploitative man, are our main characters Hickey and Ruth face unimaginable and yet mundane for Africa problems as they respond to a new threat What makes the story compelling is the complexity of the characters who are neither caricatures of AID workers nor do gooders but simply human beings being human

  3. says:

    Remarkable novel about the 1990 s war in southern Sudan, readinglike a personal account than like fiction Hoagland evokes the time and place with haunting imagery of the primeval beauty of the land juxtaposed with scenes of the people s deep suffering He also paints an indelible portrait of the lives of Western do gooders and the opportunists lured by the adrenaline rush of a war zone.

  4. says:

    The subject matter is very important and relevant, however, I thought the writing style was terrible and difficult to read, long run on sentences, that made it hard to decipher what he was trying to say I make it a rule to always finish a book I have started, but this is a first in a long time that I debated quitting several times.

  5. says:

    DNF Actually I didn t get far into this book at all The sentences were excruciating long, making it a chore to read Although I was interested in the topic, I will have to find another book that covers it.

  6. says:

    Couldn t finish it Horribly cliched.

  7. says:

    The 1995 humanitarian crisis in Sudan, told from the 1st person POV of an itinerant, American NGO worker who is a decent man but far from saintly A painful, complicated, difficult story that I couldn t stop reading You don t have to be a doctor to help people who have no aspirin or disinfectant or malaria, tuberculosis, dysentery, or epilepsy pills, no splints or bandaging, and no other near facility to walk to in the brush What I m explaining is that, even if I m not of their exact denomi The 1995 humanitarian crisis in Sudan, told from the 1st person POV of an itinerant, American NGO worker who is a decent man but far from saintly A painful, complicated, difficult story that I couldn t stop reading You don t have to be a doctor to help people who have no aspirin or disinfectant or malaria, tuberculosis, dysentery, or epilepsy pills, no splints or bandaging, and no other near facility to walk to in the brush What I m explaining is that, even if I m not of their exact denomination, directors of small missionary programs in a pinch for personnel may see fit to hire me for jack of all trades assignments I can do the basic mechanics if we break down on the road, and I know when to speed up or equally important slow down when figures with guns appear to block our passage The big groups, such as Doctors Without Borders, CARE, Oxfam, and Save the Children, have salaried international staff they can fly in from Honduras, Bangkok, or New Delhi to plug a momentary defection or a flip out dedicated career people, like the U.N s ladies and gentlemen, with New York, Geneva, London, Paris, Rome behind them, who ve been vetted not much fooling around But there are various smaller outfits, whose flyers you don t receive in the mail back home, that will hire the spiritual drifter, as Al the narrator s boss put it to me, to haul pallets of plywood, bags of cement, first aid kits in bulk, and sacks of potatoes or bayou rice, cases of your basic tins, like corned beef, tuna fish, salmon, peas, what have you, and trunks of medicine to provision the solo picayune apostle out doing Christ s appalling work in the hinterlands Kindle location 272 288The narrator is between jobs when as if by telepathy, the phone at the Arab s hotel soon rang and it was Al, sounding me out about another trip to Ruthie s clinic in a remote area of Sudan to resupply her with medical kits, toddler formula, cornsoya blend CSB , her Christmas mail, and spare treats like chocolates and canned crabmeat The bad news was that a World Food Program delivery of bulk grains was going to be late, and she might like to think about either leaving temporarily or else keeping me for protection and company till it came Put your money where your mouth is, Al joked when I hesitated, being, like me, a sort of knockabout They have gold there in the Kit River, near Opari, you know, he added, as if that should be an incentive to me I was startled glad we were on the phone so he couldn t see my face Had one of the drivers told him I was smuggling a few diamonds when I had the chance When I went to visit him the next day, we struck a deal about direct deposits to my bank account if I stayed awhile I tried to wangle some term life insurance as well Al is a sandy haired Scotch Irish Bible believer, but funny he d now begun calling me a diamond in the rough , who said that children are diamonds, too, and knew so from the front lines, having witnessed the successive Ethiopian and Somali famines and the Sahel droughts of the Kababish country in northern Sudan he knew that you can be nearer my God to Thee without sectarianism One Christ, many proxies location 555 573If you can bear that much suffering, a companion book is Dave Eggers What is the What, a fictionalized account of the actual story of a surviving refugee

  8. says:

    What is on the face fiction reads so much like a memoir that I couldn t stop myself from checking This is a novel, right The first person narrative is so visceral, so descriptive of what I ve imagined the reality of war torn central Africa to be like, that I feel I ve just ridden through the African bush and taken a class in geopolitical history, not read a compelling tale from someone s imagination.Hoagland imbeds you in the life of Hickey, his narrator, carrying you along on his aid runs into What is on the face fiction reads so much like a memoir that I couldn t stop myself from checking This is a novel, right The first person narrative is so visceral, so descriptive of what I ve imagined the reality of war torn central Africa to be like, that I feel I ve just ridden through the African bush and taken a class in geopolitical history, not read a compelling tale from someone s imagination.Hoagland imbeds you in the life of Hickey, his narrator, carrying you along on his aid runs into South Sudan during its civil war But before you finish with page 230 and the story s end you ll feel you re being carted along in his jeep, feeling every rut in the road, watching out the window as you pass emaciated refugees fleeing the fighting, urging him to take aboard onesickly child, hurting for those who have fallen by the wayside and will never get up.Hoagland makes heroes and heroines of the aid workers, the missionary priests and nuns, the volunteer health care professionals in Africa, the bush pilots who fly for the nongovernmental organizations.Why they are there is as much the story as what they are doing and what will happen to them.One answer to the why question lies in the title the NGO workers and the missioners see hope and value in Africa s children And, as characters in the story express viewpoints from the perspective of those who are not American, readers will be challenged to give a second thought to U.S foreign policy that from those other perspectives hasn t found those diamonds worth saving.The only negative, and the reason for four stars instead of five, is the gratuitous sexual encounters that the author goes into in far too much detail Just weren t needed, and certainly not so graphic

  9. says:

    It s the 1990s and we follow Hickey, an American school teacher turned African guy about town in Nairobi He does a little of this, he does a little of that, he s an opportunist but not a sinister one He s observant of the ways of everybody, learning how to get by in a very difficult environment that is constantly changing He hooks up to deliver medical supplies food for Protestants Against Famine, to a relief station in southern Sudan There he meets Ruth, who understandably is a piece of wor It s the 1990s and we follow Hickey, an American school teacher turned African guy about town in Nairobi He does a little of this, he does a little of that, he s an opportunist but not a sinister one He s observant of the ways of everybody, learning how to get by in a very difficult environment that is constantly changing He hooks up to deliver medical supplies food for Protestants Against Famine, to a relief station in southern Sudan There he meets Ruth, who understandably is a piece of work good work She was kidnapped and possibly raped by a breakaway gang of rebels, then made to walk 20 miles back to her clinic, naked Amazing feats of strength like this is Africa They work together to save themselves and others and the story is following that journey.Things are tough here The children are soldiers, prostitutes and rarely are they just kids No one has food, AIDS is rampant and the violence just keeps getting worse and worse There s a lot of suffering to be had and not a lot happening to effectively end it The best aspect of the book is the history lessons you might learn if you are like me and not as informed about many of the countries and their distinct civil war history What I had issues with is that as I made my way through the book the characters started to be the same story but with a different face attached to it It was all suffering, blending together It was the do gooder doctor here, the child soldier there, the hungry, the sick the deformed Though the book carries a great deal of detail I found myself slowed towards the end and not racing to finish it

  10. says:

    I ve read enough NGO style books on Africa to be familiar with the atrocities that various wars throughout the continent have perpetuated upon the most vulnerable members of society rape, ritualistic killing, destruction and looting In this book, the main character, a freelance aid worker for NGOs working in conflict zones, distributes food and medicine to a perpetually long line of downtrodden people fleeing war Mother Theresa he s not But of course the man with the grotesque goiter could h I ve read enough NGO style books on Africa to be familiar with the atrocities that various wars throughout the continent have perpetuated upon the most vulnerable members of society rape, ritualistic killing, destruction and looting In this book, the main character, a freelance aid worker for NGOs working in conflict zones, distributes food and medicine to a perpetually long line of downtrodden people fleeing war Mother Theresa he s not But of course the man with the grotesque goiter could have passed through any roadblock in an NGO vehicle, if you just mutter the world hospital No one would want to unload him He didn t know enough to ask me for transportation, however, and I didn t want him sitting beside me, smelling of death for hours and hours.There s a lot of gory details of civil war peppered throughout the story LRA children wearing the intestines of the people they just killed, the consumption of rats and bugs for lack of food, etcThese details do nothing to tie the loose ends of the story together, rather, the book reads like an anthropological study of war torn Africa Lots of references to specific tribes and towns in Sudan but, unless you had traveled there, would be completely obscure to the average reader As another reviewer noted, the writer is somewhat long winded and I often had to read the same sentence two or three times to know what the hell he meant by something.I think this would be an interesting read for someone interested in learningSudan and Uganda and the role that conflict has played in their history

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