Former United States Marine Brian Steidle served for six months in Darfur as an unarmed military observer for the African Union. There he witnessed first-hand the ongoing genocide, and documented every day of his experience using email, audio journals, notebook after notebook and nearly 1,000 photographs. Gretchen Steidle Wallace, his sister, who wrote this book with Brian, corresponded with him throughout his time in Darfur. Fired upon, taken hostage, a witness to villages destroyed and people killed, frustrated by his mission's limitations and the international community's reluctance to intervene, Steidle resigned and has since become an advocate for the world to step in and stop this genocide.
The Devil Came on Horseback depicts the tragic impact of an Arab government bent on destroying its black African citizens, the maddening complexity of international inaction in response to blatant genocide, and the awkward, yet heroic transformation of a formerMarine turned humanitarian. It is a gripping and moving memoir that bears witness to atrocities we have too long averted our eyes from, and reveals that the actions of just one committed person have the power to change the world.
This impassioned memoir is a cry of conscience and an informative, if politically and historically limited, analysis by a former U.S. Marine. Steidle began work in Sudan in 2004, as a military contractor with the two-year-old Joint Military Commission to monitor the fragile cease-fire agreement in Africa's longest civil war between the Arab-dominated government of Sudan in the north and the rebel SPLA representing black African tribes of the south. As his career advances, Steidle is drawn into the province of Darfur, where government troops and government-backed Arab militias (known as Janjaweed or "the devil on a horse") operate against a 2003 uprising of black African tribes (overwhelmingly fellow Muslims) in a campaign whose virulence and destruction clearly amount to genocide. Steidle, who eventually became an unarmed American military observer for the African Union's cease-fire coalition, composed this account with his sister, an activist and founder of Global Grassroots, in conjunction with their documentary film of the same name and a traveling photo exhibit and college lecture tour. Drawing heavily on notes and e-mails home, Steidle's personal and fluent account effectively channels an idealistic, adventuresome young man's growing frustration and horror in the face of ongoing crimes against humanity and international complacency.