Published: 2 March 2017
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 272 pages
Stories of Survival from Europe's Refugee Crisis
Published: 2 March 2017
Riot police are shutting down borders, 800 lives are lost in a single shipwreck, a boy's body washes up on a beach: this is the European Union in summer 2015. But how did a bloc founded upon the values of human rights and dignity for all reach this point? And what was driving millions of desperate people to risk their lives on the Mediterranean? Charlotte McDonald-Gibson has spent years reporting on every aspect of Europe's refugee crisis, and Cast Away offers a vivid glimpse of the personal dilemmas, pressures, choices and hopes that lie beneath the headlines.
We meet Majid, a Nigerian boy who exchanges the violence of his homeland for Libya, only to be driven onto a rickety boat during Colonel Gaddafi's crackdown on migrants. Nart is an idealistic young lawyer who risks imprisonment and torture in Syria until it is no longer safe for him to stay. Sina has to leave her new husband behind and take their unborn son across three continents to try and escape the Eritrean dictatorship. Mohammed is a teenager who dreams of becoming the world's best electrician until he is called to serve as a foot-soldier in the Syrian army. And Hanan watches in horror as the safe life she built for her four children in Damascus collapses, and she has to entrust their lives to people smugglers.
While the politicians wrangle over responsibility, and the media talk in statistics, Cast Away brings to life the human consequences of the most urgent humanitarian issue of our time.
‘A closely reported, moving account of five refugees' journeys to Europe... Cast Away starts to do for refugees what abolitionists did for the slave trade: it mobilises eyewitness testimony to promote empathy, and through that, better policy’ Maya Jasanoff
‘Closely reported, passionately argued, often deeply moving... [Cast Away] start[s] to do for the refugees what British abolitionists did for the slave trade... mobilise eyewitness testimony to promote empathy, and through empathy, better policy’ Maya Jasanoff
‘McDonald-Gibson keenly evokes the hell of their voyages... To read these vivid stories is to understand not just the enormity of what is taking place, but the courage and desperation of those who embark on them’ Caroline Moorehead
‘McDonald-Gibson's compilation is both timely and a cause for serious concern... Her book re-humanises individuals who are often treated as statistics, if not demonised [and] provide[s] an invaluable reminder that most migrants are people not so very different from us.’ Peter Carty
‘McDonald-Gibson's gripping storytelling has a cinematic quality... At times it's easy to forget that these are the experiences of real people, not fictional characters, as the reader becomes immersed in harrowing stories of danger, deception and disillusionment. But McDonald-Gibson also balances individual stories with a wider historical sweep [and] offers insights into the extraordinary political and historical contexts of the migrants' home countries... [One of] the most important books you will read this year.’ Suzanne Lynch
‘This book returns humanity to those who have been consistently dehumanised across our continent. These are powerful and necessary accounts of resilience in the face of the most chilling and desperate of situations. A must read for any person who truly wants to understand the motivations of those who flee and the refugee crisis as a whole’ Tim Farron MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
‘This is a book which needed to be written and stories which needed to be told. Bravo’ Alex Crawford
‘This is a fascinating and necessary book about one of the great tragedies of our age as people flee failed and failing states in pursuit of a safe and normal life. It is essential reading for anybody interested in the individuals taking part in this mass flight and why they feel they have no choice but to escape’ Patrick Cockburn
‘This is a remarkably well documented and vivid account of why and how people are on the move towards Europe, an indictment of the European Union and its member states, and a call for moral clarity and political leadership’ Francois Crépeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
‘We have digested the refugee crisis in its scary statistics, its shocking images, and in the xenophobic reactions it has provoked inside Europe. But in Cast Away we discover the human reality of the biggest crisis of our times as it is experienced by the individuals concerned, in all the painful particularity of their individual lives, reported and narrated with vigour and compassion’ Peter Popham, author