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Paperback Emergency Sex: And Other Desperate Measures Book

ISBN: 1401359663

ISBN13: 9781401359669

Emergency Sex: And Other Desperate Measures

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Published amidst great controversy in hardcover, Emergency Sex has literally shaken the foundations of the United Nations and made headlines around the world. Three idealists searching for meaning in the worlds toughest war zones; three people thrown together who bond for dear life. In a memoir so powerful and staggeringly well-written that its impossible to put down, Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson describe the UN Peacekeeping...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Disconcerting, unsettling and most horribly true

The UN tried to punish the three authors of this book after it was published. Unfortunately the wirting was just too close to the bone for them, clearly, it is too much to think of instituting changes to their procedures. And when you read this book you can see why. It is in institutionalised bureaucracy, just like any other large amorphous institution. And its faults are writ large by Heidi, Andrew and Ken. This is ultimately one of the most disturbing reads I have had all year. It covers these three UN workers through various postings all over the world including places like Cambodia, Mogadishu, Haiti and Rwanda - and the disturbing part is what they have to deal with both externally and internally from the UN. There are blood thirsty riots outside the compound gates, random shootings, sheer inertia, entrenched bureaucracy of endless futile filing and death, constant death and pain. I didn't really like the style of writing, the story jumps between the three of them who contribute a page or so intermittently following a clear time frame of when they meet in Cambodia in the first free elections. At time the disjointedness of the telling I felt distracted from what was actually happening. This is also a very personal account and the authors don't set out to be personally likeable themselves at all times. It really is a warts and all. Given the subject they have taken on, it is not surprising. The failure of the UN is very much in the people it uses to do its work, and that is at all levels, inertia and poor judgement stem from them and their implementation of the system. The problem is as deep and as wide as the people. The shocking failure of the UN has meant terrible consequences for local populations - in Rwanda, and Haiti massacres occured. And while the UN did not cause it, they did not prevent it happening as they were supposed to do. Unfortunately I cannot imagine this bookwill have the effect it is meant to, that is highlight the problems and rally change. Here's hoping. Disturbing reading

A really good read...

Want a compelling narative? You will find it in this book! I thought it was very well written by all three authors and brilliantly editted as their memoirs are woven together beautifully (the voice changes every few pages, yet transitions well). The book is a compilation of thier personnal stories as U.N. workers assigned to some of the world's most dangerous places in recent history. Their accounts seemed thoughtful and very true to how they felt living through all they did. Their perception of things beyond what they experienced first hand may or may not be accurate (such as their take on the politics), but their perceptions of these things are well articulated and give context to how they experienced what they did on the gound. Their accounts are gripping, touching, disturbling, and even humorous at some points - creating a vivid picture for the reader of what it would have been like to have been with them. The book is a page turner and is hard to put down. It is little wonder that Miramax is the publisher since I think it could be turned into a great movie someday.

Don't Miss the Point!

This is an astonishingly honest description of what happens to people from a sheltered Western background who suddenly have to cope with some of the most horrifying aspects of the world we find ourselves in. As you read it, look at the situations they find themselves in, and try to imagine how you would respond. Of course you'd criticize (often justly) the chiefs above you, but that doesn't mean that you'd do a better job. Don't read it as a political diatribe but as individuals trying to protect themselves and still do something when nothing can be done. I've worked in these and similar situations for twenty years, and have known many people like these three. Often you won't like them, because of the psychological coping mechanisms they have and the personalities they have developed that helps them through the morass. THe sexual elements that run through the story--particularly Heidi's narrative--are one way of responding to death: by engaging in one of the most life-affirming acts there is. I've known people who, in the face of death, suddenly need 'emergency' sex to prove they are alive. I'm glad Heidi had the honesty to tell this side of the story, regardless of the consequences. I can't criticize her because I know many people who have many relationships for far worse reasons! This isn't a book that should be read for its political position, for the 'truth' about what 'really happened'. For example, I disagree strongly with Ken about whether the Rwandan Genocide could have been stopped--and I was next door in Burundi watching it happen. He doesn't mention that the French sent troops in to reinstall the Hutu government, that they found it an impossible situation, and withdrew to the quietest corner of the country. But these are quibbles, and reflect our differing perception of the situation. I'd bet he and I could come to a common ground in a few minutes in a bar over a beer. But get back to the point. This isn't a political expose, it's a psychological one, and it is the best book I've read that grapples with this issue. I know. I've been there.

A wonderfully accurate description of mission life

This book very aptly expresses the mixed emotions of aid workers everywhere, and the gradual destruction of their idealism by the realisation that despite all the rhetoric, even genocide can be pushed aside with meaningless platitudes and resolutions, as in Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia, and in present day Darfur, ignored in the interest of corporate profits. While struggling against bureaucratic inertia and downright dishonesty to contribute to the improvement of conditions for the most wretched of the world, they also struggle to find themselves. It is well written, entertaining, informative and sometimes very witty.

powerful, moving, important and timely

Here's a book for anyone who'd like to learn something about what's going on around the globe, in human language--not development jargon, not bulleted press notes, not preachy moralistic speaches, but real human language, from real people, who lived ten years of their lives in some of the world's toughest places, and who lived, loved and lost in those places. A gripping, moving, funny account. I used to work with the UN myself, and the experiences that the authors write about are in some ways familiar (and in other ways, totally unfamiliar). This is not just a book about UN scandals or failures, as the media (and some reader reviews) suggest. This is largely, and maybe more to the point, a coming-of-age story, about three young people who confront their own life values and beliefs. It will make you think about your own role in the world -- and the roll those who are in positions of relative power, who have been given the "official" authority to proclaim moral judgement over the globe's hot spots. This is an important, moving book, that's sad in some parts, but also immensely rewarding.
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