We are thrilled to present the debut of JESSICA ALEXANDER, who has spent the last ten years traveling the globe as a humanitarian aid worker. Her eye-opening memoir, CHASING CHAOS: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid (Broadway Books; On Sale October 15, 2013), sheds light on this all-consuming, extraordinary line of work, which most people know little about.
Disillusioned with her marketing job after college, Alexander dove into the humanitarian aid community, hoping to find a sense of purpose that the corporate world could not offer. She arrived in Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide as an eager intern, ready to contribute, but unsure of what to expect. The world that Alexander encountered in the field was dramatically different than anything she could have imagined. It was messy, chaotic, and difficult—but she was hooked. This honest and compelling memoir introduces readers to the realities of life as an aid worker.
CHASING CHAOS takes readers along as Alexander manages a 24,000-person camp in Darfur and collects evidence for the Charles Taylor trial in Sierra Leone. In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that ravaged South Asia and Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, Alexander is on the front lines, contributing to the massive, international aid efforts. We also see the alcohol-fueled parties and fleeting romances, the burnouts and self-doubt, and the struggle to do good in places that have long endured suffering. CHASING CHAOS chronicles Alexander’s frustrating battles against corruption and inefficiency, but also her small and large victories in the field.
Tracing her personal journey from wide-eyed and naïve newcomer to hardened cynic—and, ultimately, to hopeful but critical realist, Alexander transports readers to some of the most troubled locations around the world and shows us not only the seemingly impossible challenges, but also the moments of resilience and recovery.
JESSICA ALEXANDER is a former Fulbright scholar who has worked for various NGOs as well as UN agencies. She is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University. Alexander received a Master of Public Health and Master of International Affairs from Columbia University in 2005. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, focusing her research on accountability in humanitarian action.
We hope that you’ll consider CHASING CHAOS for your next common reading selection.