Byron Conner’s The Face of Hunger is a haunting memoir that features Ethiopia’s dark moments.

The Great Famine of Ethiopia is one of the most infamous tragedies to hit a country in recent history. The crisis gripped the African nation from 1983-1985 and affected millions of people, with around 8 million casualties. The massive hunger and poverty of Ethiopia is the subject of Dr. Byron Conner’s memoir, The Face of Hunger: Reflections on a Famine in Ethiopia. Today, ReadersMagnet Review takes another look at this haunting narrative of a people’s tragedy and how one man and his family responded to the call of medical service and missionary work.

The Face of Hunger: One Man’s Memoir, A Nation’s Story

The Face of Hunger is a book that talks about Dr. Conner’s experiences in Ethiopia. Dr. Byron Conner’s memoir begins with him making a decision to take his family to Ethiopia after he watched an advertisement by World Vision showing the state of the country. At that time, Dr. Byron Conner was connected with the U.S. Public Health Service as a physician. Looking back, Conner was deeply moved by suffering that he saw and made a life-changing move, and as they say, the rest is history.

“Meanwhile, the news reports from Ethiopia revealed an immense human tragedy like none that I had ever heard of before. I thought again about eight million people being at risk for starvation. In addition, millions lived in abject poverty and in inhuman conditions. I was in a position to help. If I was going to go to help, it would have to be now. It seemed that the needs of the people I was going to serve were more important than all other considerations. I felt compelled to act. The future was uncertain, but I just prayed that I was making the right decision.”

The Face of Hunger is Dr. Byron Conner’s memoir about his time in Ethiopia. The book is a first-hand chronicle of the food crisis that gripped the nation and how Conner and his family spent three years in the country, most of the time in the towns of Gimbie and Addis Ababa, to locations hit badly by the famine. In the town of Gimbie, Dr. Conner managed the town’s hospital. He also recorded his encounters in Addis Ababa and other remote places in the region. He recounts not only the desperate situation related to famine but also other issues such as poverty, tribal wars, disease, and the lack of a decent health care system. Many of the towns and municipalities are without hospitals, and there is a lack of personnel and medical supplies.

Through the eyes of Dr. Byron Conner, we see how the people are struggling to survive each and every day. We also learn of deaths and the state abandonment in terms of political leadership, economic sustainability, and peace and order. As a medical professional, Dr. Byron Conner was able to paint a vivid picture of the sufferings and the loss experienced by the people and those who volunteered as well. As a memoir, Conner takes us not only to the developments that unfolded during his three-year stay in the region but also how he was changed by his journey. As the story progressed, we feel that the author is changing as well. Overall, The Face of Hunger by Dr. Byron Conner is more than a journal about a country’s tragedy. It is also a journey inside the heart and soul of one man who witnessed and experience many things.

About the Author

Dr. Byron Conner, M.D., is from Denver, Colorado. He comes from a large family and is the eldest among eleven children. Byron’s life of service began at a young age when he joined the Seventh-Day Adventist Church at the age of nine. Byron took up premed at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. He then decided to join the US Army, serving three years (1968-1970). After his stint in the military, Conner went back to Union College to study sociology and theology. He pursued medicine and went to Loma Linda University School of Medicine. After his residency, Byron completed two years of US Public Health Service duty in Earlimart. While his career is in the field of medicine, Dr. Byron Conner is also dedicated to his missionary work.