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Coming in March 2023

"A stunning portrait of hardship, despair, and resilience."
-Publishers Weekly


From the author of The Secret of the Nightingale Palace, The House on Dream Street, If You Lived Here, and The Life We Were Given comes a new nonfiction book: All Else Failed.

  As a million 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. People from around the globe pitched in to address the crisis. Yet the most dedicated and effective volunteers were often migrants themselves, including Rima, a mother of six, who cooked for four hundred refugees in an abandoned schoolhouse in Athens; Ibrahim, who managed donations flowing to the grassroots effort; and Sami, whose language skills helped fellow migrants navigate a foreign world. 

  Closely following the odysseys of seven individual men and women, and their families, All Else Failed tells a story of despair and resilience, revealing the humanity within an immense humanitarian disaster. 

All Else Failed


More Praise for ALL ELSE FAILED

“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

“Dana 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



Dana Sachs is a journalist, novelist, and cofounder of the nonprofit Humanity Now: Direct Refugee Relief, which supports grassroots teams providing aid to displaced people. A former Fulbright Scholar, she is the author of three works of nonfiction, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in VietnamThe Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam; and All Else Failed: The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid Crisis, as well as the novels If You Lived Here and The Secret of the Nightingale Palace. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and Mother Jones.

Dana Sachs, Author
Author Photo: Belinda Keller

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