Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pg. 99: James Dawes' "That the World May Know"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: James Dawes' That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity.

About the book, from the publisher:

After the worst thing in the world happens, then what? What is left to the survivors, the witnesses, those who tried to help? What can we do to prevent more atrocities from happening in the future, and to stop the ones that are happening right now? That the World May Know tells the powerful and moving story of the successes and failures of the modern human rights movement. Drawing on firsthand accounts from fieldworkers around the world, the book gives a painfully clear picture of the human cost of confronting inhumanity in our day.

There is no dearth of such stories to tell, and James Dawes begins with those that emerged from the Rwandan genocide. Who, he asks, has the right to speak for the survivors and the dead, and how far does that right go? How are these stories used, and what does this tell us about our collective moral future? His inquiry takes us to a range of crises met by a broad array of human rights and humanitarian organizations. Here we see from inside the terrible stresses of human rights work, along with its curious seductions, and the myriad paradoxes and quandaries it presents.

With pathos, compassion, and a rare literary grace, this book interweaves personal stories, intellectual and political questions, art and aesthetics, and actual "news" to give us a compelling picture of humanity at its conflicted best, face-to-face with humanity at its worst.

Among the early praise for the book:
"That the World May Know explores the double binds that attract, reward and torment those engaged in human rights and humanitarian work on the front lines of intervention. Because of its combination of interview and literary material, it presents a rich and diverse set of data to the reader. No one has so far written a book quite like this."
--Jacqueline Bhabha, Executive Director, Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies
Listen to a short interview with James Dawes.

James Dawes is Associate Professor of English and American Literature and Founder and Director of the Program in Human Rights and Humanitarianism at Macalaster College.

Read more about That the World May Know at the Harvard University Press website, and learn more about James Dawes' teaching and research at his faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: That the World May Know.

--Marshal Zeringue