I, Charles, from the Camps: A Novel


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In this powerful story, a young Ugandan on a quest to survive his unfortunate circumstances grudgingly becomes a rebel who learns that it is only he who controls the demons living within his soul.

Charles Agwok never asked to come into the world as a poor black African on the most terrible of continents. It seems especially unfair to him that it is a matter of chance whether he will sleep in a bed, find a job, marry, or die of hunger and disease. Yet although he never asked for his fate, now he must somehow find a way to survive it.

As he embarks on a coming-of-age journey to find meaning within a world that only recognizes violence, Charles does his best to endure the horrifying conditions that he and the other displaced people of Odek must face every day in the sprawling camps of northern Uganda. When a desperate need to find work leads him to the city of Kampala, Charles spends the next ten years as a bitter man frustrated with the unfairness of the world. Charles has no idea he has the power within to change his fate until he is reluctantly recruited to become a soldier in the Lords Resistance Army and must face his past as it rises up to meet him.

About the Author

Joel D. Hirst is a writer and novelist. He was a Fellow in Residence at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow in Human Freedom at the George W. Bush Institute. Hirst is a graduate of Brandeis University. He lives in Gilbert, Arizona.