361: Chasing Chaos by Jessica Alexander

by Gerard


361.25092: Alexander, Jessica. Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid. New York: Broadway Books, 2013. 378 pp. ISBN 978-0-7704-3691-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 360: Social problems and services
  • 361: Social problems and social welfare in general
  • 361.2: Social action
  • 361.25: Action within established social framework
  • +092: Biography

There’s almost no place on the planet that isn’t in need of some form of aid. From African refugees to Middle East conflict survivors to the countless homeless in the United States, humanitarian aid is a constant necessity. Doing what is necessary is oftentimes daunting and exhausting. Jessica Alexander, in Chasing Chaos, describes a decade in the field and what existing on both sides of the fence has taught her about the world and herself. She’s been to Darfur, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Haiti. She’s been on the front lines watching over a camp and in an NGO office coordinating relief from afar. Her unabashed description of living conditions in the undeveloped world as well as her candid assessment of her own life may inject a twinge of guilt in those who are fortunate enough to afford food and water. She understands the culture shock of coming back to her home after living in a tent for months at a time. Alexander’s tone is conversational and quick. If you’re looking for true ways to get involved in relief efforts, she offers up a few avenues. She also does a decent job of laying out the intricate politics and social landscapes of the countries currently in need of aid as well as the dangers she faced in many locations. All in all, this was a heady and rewarding book.