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God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir [Paperback]

John Bul Dau , Michael S. Sweeney
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 22 2008
"Lost Boy" John Bul Dau’s harrowing experience surviving the brutal horrors of Sudanese civil war and his adjustment to life in modern America is chronicled in this inspiring memoir and featured in an award-winning documentary film of the same name. Movingly written, the book traces Dau’s journey through hunger, exhaustion, terror, and violence as he fled his homeland, dodging ambushes, massacres and attacks by wild animals. His tortuous, 14-year journey began in 1987, when he was just 13, and took him on a 1,000-mile walk, barefoot, to Ethiopia, back to Sudan, then to a refugee camp in Kenya, where he lived with thousands of other Lost Boys. In 2001, at the age of 27, he immigrated to the United States. With touching humor, Dau recounts the shock of his tribal culture colliding with life in America. He shares the joy of reuniting with his family and the challenges of making a new life for himself while never forgetting the other Lost Boys he left behind.

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God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir + They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Reprint edition (Jan. 22 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426202121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426202124
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 16.6 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #119,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Booklist

Just 13 in 1987 when he was driven from his village and separated from his family in the raging civil war in southern Sudan, John Bul Dau spent years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, until in 2001 he came to the U.S. as one of 4,000 Lost Boys of Sudan. His memoir is the subject of a new, award-winning documentary film. Like Deng's They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky (2005), this is a stark, first-person account of trauma and survival. Dau tells it quietly, in fast, simple prose true to the young teen's viewpoint. He's funny about the culture shock in America and honest about his years in the camp, even the fact that, trauma notwithstanding, he liked being tabbed as a leader. Although appreciative of this country and the chance for work and college, he never denies his connections to Africa. Unforgettable photos document his reunion--after 19 years--with family he did not know were alive. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"This earnest, heart-on-the-sleeve memoir reinforces the preciousness of all human life and should serve as a reality check for the rest of world." —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"This is a memoir of terror, triumph and humour as Bul Dau adapts to his new life, learning along the way that differences can be bridged peacefully." —Windsor Star (Ontario)

"One sweetly funny moment in this book occurs when Dau meets a nice guy named Brad, who turns out to be the film’s producer, Brad Pitt." —Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir Aug. 22 2011
Format:Paperback
The title was intriguing and as I read more reviews I knew it was a book I wanted to read. It was so well written I couldn't put it down. This is a book that everyone living in free, democratic countries need to read, if for no other reason than as a reminder of the good fortune of having been born "free" and in a land of plenty. Even with the current dreary economic conditions we are still so much more fortunate than most of the world. This is an incredible story of people, many of them just children, who lived through unspeakable events and persevered onward for years seeking a better life. The strength of character that John and many others showed over and over again...........well, no I don't believe God grew tired of them at all........they made Him proud. This is reality folks and a riveting story of what the human spirit is capable of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Lost Boys of Sudan Jan. 6 2010
Format:Paperback
This book is not for the faint of heart. Like the land from which Dau comes, it is violent and filled with losses, hardships and unthinkable atrocities. Dau chronicles his escape from Sudan during the civil war in which many lost their lives in unthinkably brutal attacks as the Northern Sudanese Muslims waged war against at the Christians of the South. He tells in harsh detail how his village was attacked in the night by soldiers and his subsequent trek through the bush with other 'lost boys' trying to survive until they could reach a refugee camp and of the trials of trying to find food, water and the strength with which to keep going in the face of death.

However, it is ultimately a story of overcoming in spite of the overwhelming odds stacked against him and in the end Dau finds a new life in America and reconnects with other Sudanese refugees to trace their remarkable journeys and then begin the daunting task of searching for any family that might have survived. This book should be required reading and as with survivors of the holocaust, Dau's story must be told to ensure that such atrocities are not allowed to be repeated. Dau's purpose that he finds in being spared from death is simply inspiring as are his words: "They call me a Lost Boy, but let me assure you, God has found me".
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale to rival Anne Frank's; and now a movie! Feb. 2 2007
By M. Swinney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wow! I can't believe there isn't more buzz and more sales of this book considering what a powerful life-changing tale John Bul Dau has to tell. As far as a window to what a human soul can endure and a confirmation of faith in the unflappable power of the human spirit to overcome horrid adversity just to survive, Bul Dau's "God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir," has to rank right up there with "Left to Tell," by Immaculee Ilibagiza and Anne Frank's Hiding Place Diary.

After reading this book, you can even rush out to the theater and catch the Oscar deserving "God Grew Tired Of Us," documentary about John, Panther, and Daniel plight of coming to America. The movie and the book are ultimately tales of redemption and hope and how new beginnings in new countries can be a life catalyst. But be warned, the book is not for the faint of heart and placid of wills. It will gently urge you to do something, anything to turn the tide in the Darfur region of Sudan, where genocide on a massive scale has been perpetrated by the current government while the international community largely looks on unaffected and unacting.

John's voice though doesn't reach to such global assumptions and is never preachy. It is a simple tale of tragedy on a holocaust-like scale every bit as terrible as Rwanda's civil war. John escapes to Kukuma refugee camp and eventually finds his way with two of his best friends and fellow "lost boys," to a New York Syracuse apartment and the difficult process of transitioning to a new life and new culture begins.

Ultimately John fights to hold on to his Dinka culture and I dare you to fight to keep a dry eye when John discovers not only is his mother still alive in Sudan (whom he was separated from at age 13) but reunites with her in a New York airport with dramatic tears and full-on celebration of joy. It is a defining moment that captures in a simple sentence the power of families and the power of the human spirit to survive.

There are so many moments of clarity in John's text. He eventually comes to ask the question, "Why did the United States choose to intervene in Kosovo and not in Sudan or Rwanda?" Though this may sound like a bleak tale it is not. John's writing is actually quite laugh out loud humorous as he explains how Panther, Daniel, and John learn how to live in America. Navigating through things we take for granted like how to turn on and off a lightswitch, what the garbage can is for, and how bills build up the more money you make. John eventually sees a way to turn his plight into a national call to action by starting up a "Lost Boys," non-profit movement and finding a way to keep his culture alive, his family alive, while being influenced by the unavoidable Americanization that occurred.

I really can't give a strong enough recommendation for John Bul Dau's "God Grew Tired of Us." It is one of the 5 most powerful books (and films too) that I have experienced in my life of 38 short years. I had the privilege to work with Sudanese refugee families in Head Start and know the horror and terror of their tales and what they will be pushed to do to find a better life for their children. Ultimately, John Bul Dau finds himself making the same choices in this finely written book. It reminded me very strongly of the Jewish Holocaust remembrance movement's slogan, "Lest we not forget." Have we forgotten already about the tragedies Bul Dau and millions others are experiencing in Sudan? I think not. I think there is still time to act and Bul Dau's book will leave you inspired. It's a must read. --MMW
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read"... March 30 2007
By JP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
God Grew Tired of Us is one of the most powerful books I've read. It had my attention from the first page and I didn't want to put it down. John Bul Dau is such an incredible inspiration... you can't read this book and not be profoundly affected by his astonishing determination, leadership and desire to never give up. His description of his experience coming to the U.S. really makes me appreciate what we have. We so often forget how lucky we are and how it's so silly to get upset at the little things in life that are minor inconveniences to us. Hopefully this book will open your mind and your heart. I strongly encourage you to read it and pass it on.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So very touching.. March 19 2007
By J. Shea - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book makes the struggles in my life seem so minute. The torturous childhood this man had would make any normal person die simply to end the pain of everyday life. And yet he has found his way to a better place. As a longtime member of Law Enforcement as well as current Military, I have seen my fair share of misery and poverty. The struggles in our country as bad as they can get and I have seen, do not even compare to what this man and his fellow brothers endured for years. As I read this book I asked myself to take a long look at my life and see how I can do better or more to help others. I did not want to, but his life makes you see that nothing is so bad being a teenager walking naked in the middle of Africa for hundreds of miles on a journey taking months, only to find his life in even more danger and having to leave again.

Lots of people look up to the rich and famous, rock stars, models, actors or even the President as people they would like to meet. John Dau is at the top of my list of whom I would like to meet. Simply for me to tell him that I am sorry. Sorry that while I was a teenager hanging out at the mall eating when and what I wanted with no worries other than my bicycle might be stolen; he was starving, thirsty, dirty, naked, no shoes, no soap. no toothbrush... No family, no knowledge of if his family was even alive. He had NOTHING! While I was relatively safe begging my parents to buy me more of this and more of that all of which was so important to me to have then. Now I would have given up everything to John had I known of the situation.

Now I know, and feel ashamed. Thank you John for telling us your story and getting the information out to the world. I will find a way that my help is needed and contribute to help ensure others do not have to go through what you did.

John, I am so glad that you did not grow tired of God.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting memoir with great perspective April 23 2007
By CBurgos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read and really makes you question your own attitude in life. I chose it for a bookclub and everyone said they would not have picked it up and read it on their own and were really glad they did. Can't wait to see the documentary! I think everyone should read this book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars from sudan to syracuse Nov. 14 2007
By Daniel B. Clendenin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When you consider that John Bul Dau started the first grade when he was eighteen, scratching his first A-B-C's in the dusty ground of a refugee camp, his memoir is inspiring by any measure. It's hard to imagine anyone surviving what Dau describes, much less flourishing once he had the opportunity. By the time he started copying books from the refugee camp library, learned English and Swahili in order to understand the instruction, passed the Kenyan high school exam, then made it to Syracuse, New York, he had wandered upwards of a thousand miles over fourteen years from his bucolic village in southern Sudan.

Sudan is not only the largest country in Africa, and one of the most complex (572 tribes that speak 114 languages), it's also one of the most war-torn. The Darfur genocide in western Sudan rightly grabs our attention, but for twenty-five years civil war raged in the southern part of the country. The "white" Arab and Muslim government in Khartoum has tried to impose strict Islam as the state religion for the entire country, but the black and Christian south rebelled. In 2005 a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was reached.

When the Khartoum government bombed Dau's village of Duk Payuel in 1987, he fled with thousands of other displaced Sudanese. He was thirteen years old. Rape, disease, pillage, daily burials, wild animals, famine (they sometimes ate mud and drank urine), government troops, and hostile tribes did not prevent Dau and some 265,000 Sudanese from reaching refugee camps in Ethiopia to the east. Most of them were young boys and a few men, as women and girls could hardly survive, and so they became known as the "Lost Boys of Sudan." When Ethiopian troops started slaughtering them, the refugees trekked 500 miles south to safety in Kenya. By then Dau was eighteen. Nine years later he was one of only 3,600 Sudanese refugees in Kenya who were resettled in the United States.

Dau is the first to thank the many people who helped him in America, but it bears saying that by his account he was totally self-sufficient about six months after he arrived. He finished community college, entered Syracuse University, met and married a Sudanese woman from his Dinka tribe, started several foundations to help Sudan, sent most of his hourly wages back home, and was featured in the award-winning documentary film God Grew Tired of Us; The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan (Sundance Grand Jury and Audience awards in 2006). It's only fitting that Dau's improbable story ends with reconnecting with his mother, father, and siblings. "God," he writes, "had not forgotten me after all."
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