Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur (Random House Reader's Circle)
Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima Bashir received a good education away from her rural surroundings (thanks to her doting, politically astute father) and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor. Yet not even Bashir’s degree could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her homeland. Janjaweed Arab militias savagely assaulted the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s 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.
Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivor’s tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and an uncompromising spirit.
Pride and Prejudice
By Gary Severance - September 9, 2008
Tears in the Desert is a memoir of genocide in the Sudan, Muslim against Muslim over skin color. Halima Bashir is a black African raised in the Zaghawa tribe in a family of comparative wealth. The Zaghawa men are proud of their history as fierce warriors who protect their village territory and their families from invaders. Halima is proud of her heritage and her intellectual gifts, particularly mathematics. Her gifts and her family's wealth allow her to attend a private school for girls and later university in Khartoum.
The history of tribal pride has led to competition in Darfur and throughout the Sudan for land and prestige. But there is more than tribal rivalry. The Khartoum government is run by white "Arab" Muslims whose proud heritage causes the people to despise the black tribal Africans. Although Halima's advantages paid off in education, her M.D. degree is fully useful to her only if all Sudanese are treated equally. Of course, in the Sudan they are not... read more
Moving Memoir of Courage and Tragedy
By Fruit Loop - September 23, 2008
Dr. Halima Bashir's autobiography is a testament to the tragedy taking place in Darfur as well as a picture of her life. She begins with her happy childhood in her village - although the chapter of her "cutting time", when she underwent the gruesome ritual of Female Genital Mutiliaton, is wrenching, and progresses to her work as a medical doctor.
Targeted just for speaking out against the violence, and for serving her people, Dr. Bashir is kidnapped and viciously tortured and raped, then released as the ultimate punishment since rape victims are shunned in her society. She could have suffered in silence, as so many women of her culture do, or at least kept her torment private to heal. No one would have blamed her. Instead she bravely speaks out about her ordeal in an attempt to both help her violated country, and to help other victims of sexual assault.
I'm delighted that she has found joy in her marriage and child, and has been granted asylum in England, but as... read more
A wake up call
By P. Edie - September 18, 2008
I welcome a wake-up call. It is so easy to unconsciously become cocooned in my protected life on the West Coast of the United States, where daily issues end up being hunting for the best price for gasoline for my car, battling the crowded freeways and looking for a parking place, discussing the what to fix for dinner that night. I try to stay abreast of the global situation by watching the nightly News Hour on our local PBS station, but it is easy to glaze over or become anesthetized by the onslaught of words from talking heads, figures and maps so that the news takes on a element of the unreal. So when something happens to hit my radar in a way that makes me say, "I didn't know that!" or that says to me, "Open your eyes!" I am grateful and I feel a little more connected to reality.
The book, "Tears of the Desert" was slipped inside my screendoor, an advance review copy I was sent to read. I looked at the cover, the title word "Desert", the subtitle word "Darfur" and... read more