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Night on Earth
  • Davide Rodogno, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
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Book description

Night on Earth is a broad-ranging account of international humanitarian programs in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Near East from 1918 to 1930. Davide Rodogno shows that international 'relief' and 'development' were intertwined long before the birth of the United Nations with humanitarians operating in a region devastated by war and famine and in which state sovereignty was deficient. Influenced by colonial motivations and ideologies these humanitarians attempted to reshape entire communities and nations through reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes. The book draws on the activities of a wide range of secular and religious organisations and philanthropic foundations in the US and Europe including the American Relief Administration, the American Red Cross, the Quakers, Save the Children, the Near East Relief, the American Women's Hospitals, the League of Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Reviews

‘Night on Earth is a major feat and contribution to our understanding of modern humanitarianism. Davide Rodogno unearths a humanitarianism that is defined by layers of entanglements and contradictions. There are humanitarians aspiring to save lives, save societies, and save themselves. This is not a story of success but rather a burst of rain showers that quickly evaporates: humanitarians aspired to disrupt in the name of progress, but all this ambition failed to leave an impression. Elegantly written and historically sweeping, this transnational history of humanitarianism is a must read.'

Michael Barnett - author of Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism

‘Carefully dissecting what he calls ‘Promethean' elements in international relief organisations in the Near East at a crucial juncture, Davide Rodogno has written a deeply informed and passionate book. Night on Earth is a landmark contribution to the history of humanitarianism.'

Peter Gatrell - author of The Unsettling of Europe: the Great Migration, 1945-the Present

‘This is a profound, poetic, erudite and moving book. Inspired by Jim Jarmush and a profound sense of humanity, Davide Rodogno's latest work is a magnus opus drawing its transnational history from an unprecedented range of sources and archives. It is a major contribution to the scholarship on humanitarian aid and to our understanding of the tragic history of the Near East one hundred years ago.'

Bertrand Taithe - author of The Charity Market and Humanitarianism in Britain and The Killer Trail

‘Night on Earth is a serious, forthright, and necessary reconsideration of the nature and purpose of Western humanitarianism in the Middle East, and in particular it's close and complicated relationships with empire, conquest, and the toxic notion of “civilization.” It is essential reading for anyone interested in the workings of modern humanitarianism.'

Laura Robson - author of The Politics of Mass Violence in the Middle East

'Rodogno's book is humane scholarship at its best. Here is a brilliant account of the limitations on efforts to provide humanitarian aid in the Middle East in the period of the Great War.'

Jay Winter - author of Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning

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