Chasing Chaos

Chasing Chaos : My Decade in and Out of Humanitarian Aid

4.05 (1,097 ratings by Goodreads)
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Jessica Alexander arrived in Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide as an idealistic intern, eager to contribute to the work of the international humanitarian aid community. But the world that she encountered in the field was dramatically different than anything she could have imagined. It was messy, chaotic, and difficult but she was hooked. In this honest and irreverent memoir, she introduces readers to the realities of life as an aid worker. We watch as she manages a 24,000-person camp in Darfur, collects evidence for the Charles Taylor trial in Sierra Leone, and contributes to the massive aid effort to clean up a shattered Haiti. But we also see the alcohol-fueled parties and fleeting romances, the burnouts and self-doubt, and the struggle to do good in places that have long endured suffering. Tracing her personal journey from wide-eyed and naive newcomer to hardened cynic and, ultimately, to hopeful but critical realist, Alexander transports readers to some of the most troubled locations around the world and shows us not only the seemingly impossible challenges, but also the moments of resilience and recovery."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 386 pages
  • 132 x 202 x 24mm | 300g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • maps
  • 0770436919
  • 9780770436919
  • 65,069

Review quote

"Terrific new memoir...It's "Wild "in Sudan." --Nicholas Kristof, "New York Times" columnist "Jessica Alexander's book, Chasing Chaos, is not only a candid portrait of the life of a humanitarian aid worker, but a wonderful coming of age story that will resonate with any woman who has questioned how to have a more meaningful life." --Mia Farrow "What Mary Roach does for the alimentary canal in "Gulp" and Robin Nagle does for garbage collecting in "Picking Up," Jessica Alexander does for global catastrophe in "Chasing Chaos..."An entertaining memoir of life on the front lines of global catastrophe reveals as much about its author as the world of humanitarian aid."" --Shelf Awareness " "A no-holds-barred description of what it is like to travel to world disaster sites and engage in the complex, challenging, nitty-gritty work of making a difference across lines of culture, class, age, gender, and perspective. In telling the story of her decade as a young and passionate humanitarian aid worker Jessica Alexander also manages to tell us the best and the worst of what this work is like and to speculate on the aid establishment--how it has changed, where it works and what its limits are. A must read for anyone with global interests--and that should be all of us." --Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service ""Chasing Chaos" examines the lives that aid workers lead and the work which aid workers do with honesty, clarity, and warmth. While the book is peppered with hilarious anecdotes--it is also salted with tears. Honest, genuine, heartfelt tears. This life and this work that aid and development workers embark upon so often oscillates wildly between stomach bursting laughter and shoulder seizing weeping--"Chasing Chaos" captures these oscillations, and the doldrums in between the ends of the spectrum, perfectly." --Casey Kuhlman, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Shooter" "During ten years of working with the sickshow more

About Jessica Alexander

JESSICA ALEXANDER spent much of the last decade responding to humanitarian crises across the globe. A former Fulbright scholar, she has worked for various NGOs as well as UN agencies. She has a dual masters degree from Columbia and is currently working toward her more

Rating details

1,097 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 34% (377)
4 42% (460)
3 19% (210)
2 4% (40)
1 1% (10)
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