Where Soldiers Fear to Tread

In this gripping firsthand account, John Burnett shares his experiences during the flood relief operations of 1997 to 1998. Ravaged by monsoons, starvation, and feuding warlords, Somalia continues to be one of the most dangerous places on earth. Both a personal story and a broader tale of war, the politics of aid, and the horrifying reality of child-soldiers, his chronicle represents the astonishing challenges faced by humanitarian workers across the globe. 

There are currently thousands of civilian workers serving in over one hundred nations. Today, they are as likely to be killed in the line of duty as are trained soldiers. In the past five years alone, more UN aid workers have been killed than peacekeepers. When Burnett joined the World Food Program, he was told their mission would be safe, their help welcomed–and they would be pulled out if bullets started to fly. 

When he arrived in Somalia, Burnett found a nation rent by a decade of anarchy, a people wary of foreign intervention, and a discomfiting uncertainty that the UN would remember he’d been sent there at all. 

Paperback, 368 pages. Published 2006.