Human Cargo : A Journey Among Refugees
by Moorehead, Caroline

A portrait of the lives of today's refugees cites an alarming percentage of the world's population that has been forced to abandon home and family in order to survive, sharing the personal stories of people struggling to make lives for themselves in such areas as Cairo, Lebanon, and Australia. By the author of Gellhorn. An arresting portrait of the lives of today's refugees and a searching look into their future The word refugee is more often used to invoke a problem than it is to describe a population of millions of people forced to abandon their homes, possessions, and families in order to find a place where they may, quite literally, be allowed to live. In spite of the fact that refugees surround us-the latest UN estimates suggest that 20 million of the world's 6.3 billion people are refugees-few can grasp the scale of their presence or the implications of their growing numbers. Caroline Moorehead has traveled for nearly two years and across four continents to bring us their unforgettable stories. In prose that is at once affecting and informative, we are introduced to the men, women, and children she meets as she travels to Cairo, Guinea, Sicily, the U.S./Mexico border, Lebanon, England, Australia, and Finland. She explains how she came to work and for a time live among refugees, and why she could not escape the pressing need to understand and describe the chain of often terrifying events that mark their lives. Human Cargo is a work of deep and subtle sympathy that completely alters our understandingof what it means to have and lose a place in the world.

Caroline Moorehead is the author of Gellhorn, and has been a columnist covering human rights for two British newspapers. She has worked directly with African refugees in Cairo in recent years. She lives in London.

/*Starred Review*/ British writer Moorehead is a superb biographer, most recently of writer of conscience Martha Gellhorn, and a newspaper columnist who has been writing about human rights for 25 years. She now presents a landmark overview of the fate of refugees as millions of people all around the world are either searching for a better life or seeking asylum after surviving persecution, rape, torture, and genocidal massacres. Moorehead begins with an invaluable and eye-opening history of twentieth-century efforts to cope with unprecedented numbers of displaced people-a story of altruism thwarted by bureaucracy, hypocrisy, prejudice, politics, greed, and fear. She then presents clarion portraits of individual refugees whose appalling predicaments searingly define the horrors of today's exodus and exile. Moorehead introduces a suicidal Iranian in a violence-prone detention camp in Australia; a mother "destitute of possibilities" in an impoverished camp in Guinea; a 67-year-old Palestinian who has lived in a refugee camp for 54 years; and starving Liberians in Cairo. Painstaking in her marshaling of facts and unflinching in her reportage, Moorehead purposefully illuminates the suffering endured by refugees and all the travesties, paradoxes, and tragedies engendered by the failure to act on their behalf. ((Reviewed February 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

Journalist and biographer Moorehead (Gellhorn, 2003, etc.) provides a passionate brief on behalf of millions of refugees across the globe.Dictatorial regimes and calamitous wars in the 20th century have produced continuing crises involving exiles. Though there are "only" 12 million refugees in the world today (compared with 19 million in the mid-1990s), attitudes toward them have hardened, notes the author. They survive mountain crossings and shipwrecks, endure hunger, pay smugglers' fees, and land in unfamiliar countries with no money. Then they languish for years in holding pens as bureaucrats and lawyers debate whether they should be received or deported. In the post-9/11 atmosphere, heightened fear of terrorism has led more governments to pressure the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to pounce on inconsistencies and small lies as an excuse to deny asylum. Visiting such places as Cairo, Sicily, Tijuana, Australia, Great Britain, and Guinea, Moorehead crafts "a record of what happens to people when their lives spin out of control into horror and loss." Her unflinching depiction of cases without end and governments without mercy recalls the works of Kafka, Dickens, and Naipaul. Dozens of portraits give sinew and voice to representative examples of this human flotsam. Mothers quietly mourn babies they were forced to leave on the roadside; young men stare sullenly, unable to comprehend how to get out of their camps; and children grapple with traumatic memories of torture and death. It is nearly impossible not to be moved by such plights, and in at least one case-Palestinians seething with resentment against Israel for dispossessing them-Moorehead could have shown more objectivity by explaining the other side's position. But she evokes refugees' chaotic and miserable conditions with searing power, as in this description of Cairo: "Wherever the buildings are most derelict, the electricity supplies most sporadic, the water least reliable, there the refugees live."A compassionate and sterling chronicler rescues from facelessness the victim-survivors of man's inhumanity to man.Agent: Clare Alexander/Gillon Aitken Associates Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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