As hundreds of thousands of displaced people sought refuge in Europe, the global relief system failed. This is the story of the volunteers who stepped forward to help.
In 2015, increasing numbers of refugees and migrants, most of them fleeing war-torn homelands, arrived by boat on the shores of Greece, setting off the greatest human displacement since WWII. As journalists reported horrific mass drownings, an ill-prepared and seemingly indifferent world looked on. Those who reached Europe needed food, clothing, medicine, and shelter, but the international aid system broke down completely.
All Else Failed is Dana Sachs’s compelling eyewitness account of the successes—and failures—of the volunteer relief network that emerged to meet the enormous need. Closely following the odysseys of seven individual men and women, and their families, it tells a story of despair and resilience, revealing the humanity within an immense humanitarian disaster.
“Dana Sachs’s vivid, passionate book will shake any faith you once had in international aid organizations. But it will move and inspire you, and bring a lump to your throat, by its portraits of big-hearted women and men from many countries who jumped in to help fellow human beings caught up in one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our time.” —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and To End All Wars
“An urgent, deeply researched, and tender account of the helpers: refugee crisis volunteers (often formerly displaced) who arrive when those responsible for the chaos have turned their backs. Vital, and often infuriating, it is at once global in scale and absolutely singular. This is a story about the drive to nurture and care for our fellow humans, one that stirs us all.” —Dina Nayeri, author of The Ungrateful Refugee
“Sachs chronicles what happened in Greece when Middle Eastern refugees and volunteers from around the world converged, imperfectly, often chaotically, but with empathy and generosity in ways that mattered and ways that moved me. Sometimes these impromptu communities fail in the end, but the fact that they succeeded for a time, against the odds, can teach us important lessons.” —Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark and Orwell’s Roses