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Short Synopsis
In City of Thorns, Ben Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in Dadaab refugee camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there.

Full Synopsis
Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks, or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education.

In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid, and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.

"Rawlence has written a book that just might change the world or, at the very least, awaken readers to one criminally forgotten corner of it." ---Booklist Starred Review

"Rawlence eloquently expresses his moral outrage at the conditions Guled and others endure…" ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"A significant, timely, and gloomy tale that reveals the human costs of a growing world crisis." ---Kirkus

"Rawlence effectively penetrates [the] complexity by exploring Dadaab through the lives of nine of its residents…" ---Library Journal Starred Review
Dayton Prize Finalist

Booklist Review

Publishers Weekly Review

Library Journal Review

City of Thorns

Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

Author Ben Rawlence

Narrated by Derek Perkins

Publication date Apr 26, 2016

Running time 12 hrs

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