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Dana's Books

Coming in March 2023: Dana's new nonfiction book, All Else Failed.

Pre-order your copy here.

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Bellevue Literary Press

Available Mar 21, 2023

304 pages

Trade Paper List Price US $19.99

ISBN: 9781954276093

Ebook ISBN: 9781954276109

Coming in March 2023: Pre-Order Here.

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 in Europe since the end of 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. 

Praise for All Else Failed

Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and To End All Wars

“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.”

Dina Nayeri, author of The Ungrateful Refugee

“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.”

Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark and Orwell’s Roses

“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.”

The Secret of the Nightingale Palace

35-year-old Anna has recently lost her husband to leukemia. Some time has passed since his death, and it’s time for Anna to get back on her feet, but she is struggling to move on. Out of the blue, Anna’s estranged grandmother, Goldie, telephones and orders her to come to New York at once. Goldie Rosenthal is overly opinionated, obsessed with good manners, and flat-out nasty sometimes, but she’s family. Before we know it, Anna is sitting at JoJo on the Upper East Side and agreeing to drive Goldie across the country in a Rolls-Royce to deliver a collection of valuable Japanese art to a long-lost friend in San Francisco.

Goldie is not entirely honest with Anna about her true motives for the trip, though. She has a tightly kept secret about her life in San Francisco in the early 1940s, and, though hesitant to reveal it, she knows she must share part of her life in order to help Anna move on and discover happiness.

Alternating between Goldie’s experience in the 1940s and Anna’s perspective now, Dana Sachs has created an unforgettable duo whose stories teach us about the enduring power of love and family.

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If You Lived Here

If You Lived Here is a big literary novel, ambitious in its melding and merging of home and homelessness, love and divorce, motherhood and sisterhood, loss and joy. . . . This book shows us our own lives, our own world. It has the power to make us see each other as we are.” –Clyde Edgerton, author of The Night Train

“Poignant. . . . A well-told story, with appealing characters, delightful moments, and a satisfyingly real ending.” –The Charlotte Observer

From the publisher: Shelley Marino's desperate yearning for a child has led her to one of the only doors still open to her: foreign adoption. It is a decision that strains and ultimately shatters her relationship with her husband, Martin—the veteran of an Asian war who cannot reconcile what Shelley wants with what he knows about the world. But it unites her with Mai, who emigrated from Vietnam decades ago and has now acquired the accoutrements of the American dream in an effort to dull the memory of the tragedy that drove her from her homeland. As a powerful friendship is forged, two women embark on a life-altering journey to the world Mai left behind—to confront the stark realities of a painful past and embrace the promise of the future.

The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam

“One of the bravest and most wrenching books I have read about the war. . . . [A] beautiful book.”

–Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things


In April 1975, just before the fall of Saigon, the U.S. government launched "Operation Babylift," a highly publicized plan to evacuate nearly three thousand displaced Vietnamese children and place them with adoptive families overseas. Chaotic from start to finish, the mission gripped the world-with a traumatic plane crash, international media snapping pictures of bewildered children traveling to their new homes, and families clamoring to adopt the waifs.

Decades after the war ended, Dana Sachs examines this unprecedented event more carefully, revealing how a single public-policy gesture irrevocably altered thousands of lives, not always for the better. With sensitivity and balance, Sachs deepens her account by including multiple perspectives: birth mothers making the wrenching decision to relinquish their children; orphanage workers, military personnel, and doctors trying to "save" them; politicians and judges attempting to untangle the controversies; adoptive families waiting anxiously for their new sons and daughters; and the children themselves, struggling to understand. The Life We Were Given inspires impassioned discussion on the human cost of war, international adoption and aid efforts, and U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

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The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam

"Passionate, perceptive."--Utne Reader

"Candid and large-hearted."--Elle Magazine

Dana Sachs went to Hanoi when tourist visas began to be offered to Americans; she was young, hopeful, ready to immerse herself in Vietnamese culture. She moved in with a family and earned her keep by teaching English, and she soon found that it was impossible to blend into an Eastern culture without calling attention to her Americanness--particularly in a country where not long ago she would have been considered the enemy. But gradually, Vietnam turned out to be not only hospitable, but the home she couldn't leave.

Sachs takes us through two years of eye-opening experiences: from her terrifying bicycle accidents on the busy streets of Hanoi to how she is begged to find a buyer for the remains of American "poes and meeas" (POWs and MIAs). The House on Dream Street is also the story of a community and the people who become inextricably, lovingly, a part of Sachs's life, whether it's her landlady who wonders why at twenty-nine she's not married, the children who giggle when she tries to speak the language, or Phai, the motorcycle mechanic she falls for.

Two Cakes Fit for a King: Folktales from Vietnam

Compiled by Nguyen Nguyet Cam and Dana Sachs; Illustrated and introduced by Bui Hoai Mai

For centuries, the Vietnamese have sustained the history of their nation, both actual and mythic, through their folklore. These stories, passed from generation to generation, contain not only the national saga, but also fundamental cultural values that Vietnamese hold dear. Some stories, like "A Daughter's Love," are imaginative accounts of early Vietnamese history. Others, like "The Anger of the Waters" and the title story, "Two Cakes Fit for a King," provide colorful explanations of the world and how it works. "The Story of Watermelon Island" offers readers a glimpse of the traditional agrarian values and way of life that are the foundation of Vietnamese society.

Imaginative and captivating, funny and sometimes tragic, these tales have remained popular and culturally significant for Vietnamese, young and old, for hundreds of years. The intricate illustrations draw on centuries-old painting styles and on natural imagery and everyday life in Vietnam.

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