Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad

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9780688172374: Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad

Waris Dirie ran away from her oppressive life in the African desert when she was barely in her teens, illiterate and impoverished, with nothing to her name but a tattered shawl. She traveled alone across the dangerous Somali desert to Mogadishu—the first leg of a remarkable journey that would take her to London, where she worked as a house servant; then to nearly every corner of the globe as an internationally renowned fashion model; and ultimately to New York City, where she became a human rights ambassador for the U.N. Desert Flower is her extraordinary story.

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By age 6, Waris Dirie was herding her family's sheep and goats, fending off hyenas and wild dogs as the family carved a path through Africa. She was just twice that age when she ran off into the vast furnace of the Somali desert to escape an arranged marriage to a much older man. Traveling for days without food and water, she made her way to Mogadishu and later to London as a servant to her uncle, the Somalian ambassador. There she wrestled with culture shock and got her first taste of the modeling life that eventually brought her into the public eye. Dirie is resilient, having survived drought, hunger, and the ritual female genital mutilation that marks a step toward womanhood among some traditional Moslems but, argue critics, steals or ruins many girls' lives. "As we traveled throughout Somalia," says Dirie, "we met families and I played with their daughters. When we visited them again, the girls were missing. No one spoke the truth about their absence or even spoke of them at all." As a special ambassador to the United Nations, Dirie has spoken out loudly on this subject and championed environmental causes, too. How much of her sometimes breathless story is gospel truth and how much embellished is hard to say. Like Dirie herself, though, the combination is intriguing, powerful, and unique. --Francesca Coltrera

About the Author:

An internationally recognized supermodel, Waris Dirie is a United Nations special ambassador who travels the world as an articulate and passionate advocate of human rights. She served as United Nations special ambassador for the elimination of FGM. She has since established the Desert Flower Foundation to advance women’s rights in Africa.



Cathleen Miller circled the globe to interview sources for her latest book, Champion of Choice, the biography of UN leader Nafis Sadik. Her previous work includes the international bestseller Desert Flower, which was adapted as a feature film. Miller’s travel essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times.

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