All Else Failed


304 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $19.99
ISBN: 9781954276093


ISBN: 9781954276109

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“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 Not Too Late

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“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’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

“Sachs writes moving passages about the boundlessness of human generosity.”


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“Remarkable. . . . All Else Failed has more than passing relevance.”

Wilmington Star-News

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“[Sachs] reveals the ways people fleeing for their lives take time to care for one another in the midst of panic and heartbreak. . . . In moments of desperation, goodness shines. This book is a testament to that.”

Washington Independent Review of Books

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“Gripping, and deeply absorbing. . . . [All Else Failed] serves as both sympathetic companion and useful guide for grassroots volunteers and organizers in future crisis zones.”

Colorado Review

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“A multilayered journalistic account. . . . Some of the most powerful individual lessons we may learn from those chronicled in these pages involve the need to tend to one’s own mental health and personal boundaries while providing aid and succor.”

North of Oxford

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“A stunning portrait of hardship, despair, and resilience.”

Publishers Weekly

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“This people-first, intensely researched, deeply personal, and altogether devastating call to action tells us that when all else fails, volunteer.”


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“Inspiring and troubling.”

Kirkus Reviews

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“Timely and important.”

Midwest Book Review

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“This is an up-close look at what happened, what went right, what went wrong and how we can learn from the experience. Such an important book!”

Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

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

Clinton Global Initiative Reading List selection (in partnership with Northshire Bookstore)

Wesleyan University Magazine “Recommended Reading” selection

Excerpt from All Else Failed

Watch Dana Sachs discuss All Else Failed at McNally Jackson Books and hear more from her about the book on Bookstack, Chris Voss Show, Curious Man, Keen On, Leonard Lopate at Large, Stand Up! with Pete Dominick, and What Matters Most.

Go behind the scenes of the humanitarian aid effort in the All Else Failed book trailer, read the Editors’ Choice Award adapted excerpt in Scoundrel Time, and find Dana Sach’s op-eds related to migration and the book at Gateway Journalism Review, Charlotte Readers, and in the Wall Street Journal.