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Publishers' Weekly Plugs As We Forgive

March 25, 2009
By Catherine Larson


Books Bring Home Wrenching Conflicts in Africa
by Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans -- Publishers Weekly, 3/23/2009

Neither author Chris Herlinger nor photographer Paul Jeffrey could have predicted that their book on Darfur would be published just as events in the Sudanese region hit still another crisis point, with Sudan President Omar Hassan-Al Bashir responding to his arrest warrant by expelling humanitarian aid groups. Where Mercy Fails: Darfur’s Struggle to Survive (Seabury Press, March) illuminates both the plight and the resilience of the millions of refugees who have fled in the face of attacks by government forces and militia known as Janjaweed.

“There’s a tendency to convert these people into helpless victims. They’re not,” said Jeffrey, a photojournalist for the United Methodist Church. Of the 60 countries he’s covered, he added, Darfur’s images of suffering and struggle stayed with him long after editing the pictures back in the United States. Herlinger’s narration features extensive interviews with refugees and aid workers, while it also explores the dilemmas faced by Westerners attempting humanitarian intervention.

Bill Falvey, publicity and special sales manager at Church Publishing, which owns Seabury, characterizes the book’s market as humanitarian. Special outreach to faith-based groups includes author appearances and signings at offices of Church World Service, where Herlinger works, and to Schools of Christian Mission, educational programs offered by United Methodist Women. “Both evangelical and mainline news associations are included in this particular (publicity) campaign,” said Falvey, underlining the book’s emphasis on how Darfur has provided common ground for humanitarian activism by both groups. In addition, there is “fairly significant” marketing to secular media and readers that includes an early April launch event in New York.

Rwanda, another African country with a history of bloodshed, is the subject of two new Zondervan books. As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda by Claire Larson (Feb.) examines reconciliation in the lives of 14 Rwandans -- victims, orphans and perpetrators of the massacre that killed 800,000 of their countrymen. Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda by Emmanuel Katongole with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Feb.) explores the meaning of global Christian hope in the wake of the mass killings.

“Right now, there is significant mainstream media interest as well as Christian media interest for both books,” said Karen Campbell, Zondervan director of public relations, adding that the publisher anticipates heightened interest as the 15th anniversary of the slaughter approaches. Author appearances and book-signings are scheduled across the country and both volumes are doing well, she said.


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