DAVID RIEFF A BED FOR THE NIGHT PDF

Rieff is an American journalist who rose to prominence covering the Bosnian war in the mid-nineties, particularly with the publication of his acclaimed book, Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West For his new book, Rieff spent many years researching the major humanitarian actors, as well as visiting and writing about many of the contexts where humanitarians have long been active: Angola, Afghanistan, and Burundi, to name a few. In many ways, the humanitarian movement is lucky to have Rieff among its expositors. His exceptionally eloquent and penetrating assessment of the nature and problems of humanitarian action will surely remain the standard account for the next few years. Although many others have presented cogent criticisms of the limits of humanitarian action i. This book thus forms the perfect complement to that of an equally original critic of humanitarian action, Alex de Waal, insofar as the latter condemns the internal mechanisms of the contemporary humanitarian machine, whereas the former situates these in relation to Western socio-political efforts to address suffering over the last few hundred years.

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Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Timely and controversial, A Bed for the Night reveals how humanitarian organizations are often betrayed and misused, and have increasingly lost sight of their purpose.

Drawing on firsthand reporting from war zones around the world, David Rieff shows us what aid workers do in the field and the growing gap between their noble ambitions and their actual capabilities for allev Timely and controversial, A Bed for the Night reveals how humanitarian organizations are often betrayed and misused, and have increasingly lost sight of their purpose.

Drawing on firsthand reporting from war zones around the world, David Rieff shows us what aid workers do in the field and the growing gap between their noble ambitions and their actual capabilities for alleviating suffering. He describes how many humanitarian organizations have moved from their founding principle of neutrality, which gave them access to victims, to encouraging the international community to take action to stop civil wars and ethnic cleansing.

By calling for intervention, humanitarian organizations risk being seen as taking sides in a conflict and thus jeopardizing their access to victims. And by overreaching, the humanitarian movement has allowed itself to be hijacked by the major powers.

Rieff concludes that if humanitarian organizations are to do what they do best -- alleviate suffering -- they must reclaim their independence. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published October 7th by Simon Schuster first published October 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews.

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Bed for the Night , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details.

More filters. Sort order. Oct 29, Paltia rated it really liked it. Ok, so I did not give this book four stars because I thought it was much fun to read. Had it also been fun to read I would have given it five stars no question. But, as much as it hurts, I think it's important for starry-eyed save-the-world types like me, haha to get acid dumped on their heads once in a while.

Of course the problem with this book is that it essentially lists all the problems with humanitarianism in this century its ineffectiveness, its essential lack of clarity and purpose a Ok, so I did not give this book four stars because I thought it was much fun to read. Of course the problem with this book is that it essentially lists all the problems with humanitarianism in this century its ineffectiveness, its essential lack of clarity and purpose and then walks away leaving you just feeling like your eyes are burned out.

But in the optimisic words of the author, "Given the choice between liberal imperialism and barbarism, I would take liberal imperialism every time," and this book is for those who want to see international humanitarianism's faults as a credo and keep going. May 07, DoctorM rated it really liked it Shelves: human-rights , hearts-of-darkness.

A sombre assessment of the state of humanitarian aid in the new century. The great humanitarian disasters of recent times, Rieff, argues, have largely been human rights crises as well Bosnia, Aceh, Rwanda, Kosovo, Afghanistan caused by war and tyranny, and humanitarian groups, by trying to do more than just provide immediate aid to the victims, by trying to get at root causes, have become absorbed into the politics of the great powers and the agendas of donors.

The tragedy, Rieff argues, is A sombre assessment of the state of humanitarian aid in the new century. The tragedy, Rieff argues, is that humanitarianism and human rights can and do conflict. The efforts in Sarajevo to feed and house Bosnians saved lives, but took pressure off Europe and the US to take action to stop the Serb siege.

Feeding Rwandan refugees and staving off a cholera epidemic in refugee camps in the Congo allowed genocidal Hutu militias time and resources to regroup in the camps. Acts by states to do necessary things to stop human rights disasters e. Rieff faults humanitarian groups for not seeing the contradictions and tragedy in such things, and for too readily becoming subcontractors of states and their militaries in a rush to Do Good.

Rieff admires the field work of humanitarian agencies always dangerous, often volunteer work, brutally difficult, heartbreaking. But he calls for a sense of what the limits of aid are, and, more importantly, for a consideration of what the costs of humanitarian intervention can be, even in the most necessary cases. Rieff tries hard not to be a cynic or an utter pessimist, but he does argue forcefully for a sense of limits, and for a clear understanding that a human-rights based foreign policy and humanitarianism are not always the same thing.

Oct 24, Anna rated it liked it Shelves: poli-sci-for-paper. Worth reading for his throuogh work, and above all because he is critical of the state of humanitarianism without being leftist about it, thankyouverymuch.

View all 8 comments. Apr 14, Tinea rated it liked it Shelves: development-humanitarian-aid. Reading all these book by aid workers is teaching me that while aid workers are fantastic at being self-critical, they are horrible at writing coherent arguments.

Basically, I think I agree with Rieff's thesis. Humanitarian agencies should intentionally limit their mandates. Keep humanitarianism separate from human rights and politics and Reading all these book by aid workers is teaching me that while aid workers are fantastic at being self-critical, they are horrible at writing coherent arguments. Keep humanitarianism separate from human rights and politics and acknowledge how very limited the problem-solving scope of relief is.

It is just that: relief. A bed for the night. The world's problems are political. They need political answers. But if you mix politics with relief you'll undermine both of them. Let it save some lives, whatever the compromises it has to make along the way, and let it tend to the victims and remind that corner of the world that is lucky enough not to be in agony of the incalculable suffering, misery, and grief that literally billions of people feel every day of their lives.

Is that really so little? There is nothing small or insufficient about what [humanitarians] do, except, that is, in the tragic human sense that all effort is insufficient, all glory transient, all solutions inadequate to the challenge, all aid insufficient to the need. Or at least, that's the thinking I got from his book, but it was really all over the place. I don't know if this was what Rieff meant to say. I felt like he lacked a lot of critical theoretical background for a lot of his criticism, too.

Overall, interesting, added something-- including a scathing takedown of the calls to war that emanate from humanitarian NGOs Somalia, Bosnia, Very pertinent but no lucid argument for any one thing in particular, no real summation of the vast amount of history he tries to cover and synthesize. Why did you write this book?

Strident and indignant, strident and indignant, strident and indignant It just goes on and on and on I like the four case studies Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Afghanistan because they show the evolution of his point through example. But it's the strident and indignant introductory and concluding chapters four introductory, three concluding!

More importantly, it wasn't until the very last few pages of the last chapter that I finally figu Strident and indignant, strident and indignant, strident and indignant More importantly, it wasn't until the very last few pages of the last chapter that I finally figured out what he was so strident and indignant about I think this book is a great contribution, so well researched, with a totally cogent discourse analysis, but yet also delivered right from the front lines View 1 comment.

Jun 18, Armineh Nouri rated it really liked it. Rieff's earlier book on Bosnia was my first introduction to the complexities and complicities of international humanitarianism. He analyzes the descent of humanitarianism from a modern liberal ideal epitomized by ICRC's 'Together for Humanity' to the oxymoronic 'humanitarian intervention' of 21st century.

Throughout the book, he inspects four historic c Rieff's earlier book on Bosnia was my first introduction to the complexities and complicities of international humanitarianism. Throughout the book, he inspects four historic case studies 'milestones,' if you will through which humanitarianism came to find itself inextricably intertwined with major political forces of the post-Cold War Western world: Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.

Rieff has a way with language, which, despite being convoluted at times, is rich with critical insights derived from a decade of covering several humanitarian crises between and His approach isn't exactly methodological and his politics occasionally slide into the typical American cynicism of policy analysts, but that doesn't take away from the book's insightfulness.

Highly recommend this to anyone interested in humanitarianism as a concept, subject or practice. Nov 06, Morag Forbes rated it it was ok Shelves: refugee-crisis. This book was a long slog, and I say that as someone who had a degree in History and International Relations. I did agree with the authors argument that humanitarianism has lost its way and is being used as a mask for bigger political games. But simple ideas were stretched out to be confusing and convoluted with unnecessarily pretentious language.

Then he fails to offer any solutions to any of the issues. Aug 21, Daniel Fisberg rated it it was amazing. A must read to give you a different perspective on humanitarianism.

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Rieff, a veteran journalist and author of several books Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West , has been a "witness" to several world human disasters e. A Bed for the Night : Humanitarianism in Crisis. David Rieff. Timely and controversial, A Bed for the Night reveals how humanitarian organizations are often betrayed and misused, and have increasingly lost sight of their purpose. Drawing on firsthand reporting from war zones around the world, David Rieff shows us what aid workers do in the field and the growing gap between their noble ambitions and their actual capabilities for alleviating suffering.

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A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis

Imagine a world where ordinary people, joined in a global moral community, refuse to tolerate passivity in the face of suffering, and where great powers do not hesitate to sacrifice lives as well as funds to protect the rights of the oppressed. So human rights activists described the world as they hoped it would emerge in the 's. David Rieff is fond of a little saying that appears repeatedly in his provocative new book, ''A Bed for the Night'': reality is elsewhere. Even as the peaceful and prosperous West has become entranced with its own human rights talk, Rieff argues, the rest of the world has slipped further into chaos, conflict and want.

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