Summary and book reviews of Another Day In Paradise by Carol Bergman

Another Day In Paradise

International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories

By Carol Bergman

Another Day In Paradise
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2003,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

From the world's most troubled corners, true stories of courage and compassion.

Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Gaza Strip … Places that evoke scenes of unimaginable suffering and hardship, the human condition at its worst. But they are also places that highlight humanity at its best--the capacity for generosity, self-sacrifice, and compassion. Among those who live at the intersection of these realities are thousands of international humanitarian workers--dedicated men and women from many countries who leave behind their own comfort and security to face dangers, sorrows, and brutality that most of us cannot imagine. Carol Bergman sought them out and encouraged them to tell their stories--not to add to the chronicles of horror, but as a witness and a challenge. Some of them are heroes; others, ordinary men and women who could not sit idly by while others were suffering.


This book began over dinner at a small Italian trattoria in Manhattan, far away from the world's continuing conflicts and natural disasters. Sitting opposite me was Iain Levine, a lithe and gentle man, who was Amnesty International's Representative to the United Nations. My plan was to interview Iain for a magazine article about humanitarian workers. Several had turned up in my writing workshops over the years, and I had met others socially. I found them compelling, and complicated.

Iain is a nurse whose first job in the field was with Mother Theresa in Calcutta. The son of Orthodox Jews, he grew up in the north of England, and speaks with a lilting drawl. Philosophical musings and stories spill out of him rapidly. Then he will fall silent and listen attentively, or ask questions about the New York Yankees, his adopted team.

One of Iain's stories was about Foday Sankoh, the butcher of Sierra Leone. Iain had just returned from that war-torn country,...

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Media Reviews
Time Magazine - Maryann Bird

Bergman set out to produce a book of conventional reportage. But when she read British-born nurse Iain Levine's previously unpublished stories about his 20 years doing humanitarian work in India, Sudan and Mozambique, Bergman realized that aid workers could tell their tales better than she could. Her book became a collection of lived experiences, and is richer for it... Bergman's eclectic compilation is blessed with an eloquent forward by John Le Carré who salutes 'those brave enough to visit life's hells on foot instead of on the television screen'.

If you have ever wondered about the work of a Peace Corps volunteer, or the stories of those affected by natural disaster or war, use Another Day in Paradise as your starting point; it is well worth the read.

America Magazine - Claire Schaeffer-Duffy

Another Day in Paradise is, ironically, a record of life lived in the corners of hell. While the cruelties described are immense, so too are the human resilience and courage documented in the book's pages. We need, especially now, to read these descriptive narratives from the people who risk their lives on the ground while politicians and diplomats negotiate in velvet-curtained rooms. Their observations will help clear our heads of any delusions about war being merely a policy option with some collateral damage. More important, the examples of practical compassion recorded in Another Day in Paradise remind us of a truth about ourselves that is often lost when killing becomes commonplace Human beings were made to nourish and preserve life.

The Independent (UK newspaper)

Another Day In Paradise brings together front-line testimony from Afghanistan, Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia and the Gaza Strip - places where th best and the worst of humanity is on display - gathered by the journalist Carol Bergman , herself a child of refugees from genocide. John le Carre's foreword pays tribute to a group of people 'self-humbling in the face of monstrous disaster' who suppress 'useless pity in favour of doing something practical'

The Spectator (UK) - Caroline Moorehead

This anthology is really a celebration of the newish breed of international aid workers, the doctors, nurses, nutritionists, logisticians and engineers, who build camps, dispense food, bring water, negotiate truces, interview prisoners and curb looters on behalf of such organisations as Oxfam, Medecins san Frontieres and the International Rescue Committee.... it is hard not to come away from [this] anthology not just admiring her contributors but intrigued by the nuances of feeling that they bring to their work.

The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Their common theme is that, despite the growing dangers to front-line workers, the world cannot neglect the victims of war and famine, and must not be terrorized into abandoning them. The timing of the book launch couldn't be more appropriate.

Author Blurb From the Foreword by John le CarrĂ©
What is it that makes this anthology of personal experience in the field so particularly moving? Is it the courage and dedication of the contributors? To a point. Is it their self-humbling in the face of monstrous disaster? That too. But for my money, it is their self-control. It's their suppression of useless pity in favor of doing something practical. It's their determination, in the foulest conditions that man and nature can dream up between them, to make human decency work rather than weep; to do whatever they can, again and again, knowing it can never be enough.

Author Blurb Roy Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
Humanitarian workers define courage in the 21st century...This book gives voice to their stories, to their ability to survive in the face of death, to their humanity to one another and to those they seek to serve.

Author Blurb Madame Sadako Ogata,author of The Man Who Tried to Save the World
Gives the reader a good sense of the challenges involved [in humanitarian work]--and why the effort matters.

Author Blurb Scott Anderson, author, The Man Who Tried to Save the World
In this extraordinarily powerful collection, we hear in the humanitarian workers' own words their testimonials of life and death, of compassion and simple courage, tales which should both haunt and inspire us.

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