Dr Denis Dragovic 

Scholar, Practitioner, Author, Public Commentator


'This is a brave, unsentimental and illuminating account that deserves to be widely read.' – Tom Bamforth, author of Deep Field: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Aid Relief

‘A gripping first person account that grapples with the complexities of humanitarian aid and the unintended consequences for people it is meant to help.’ Susan Nicolai, Senior Research Fellow, ODI

​​'Dragovic has experienced some of the most complex and wrenching humanitarian crises of our times. In a clear-eyed, moving and insightful account, he brings a range of ethical, political and programmatic considerations to life, never taking his eye off the heartbreaking human cost of conflict and the enduring human spirit that shines through.' – George Biddle, Former Executive Vice-President, International Rescue Committee


No Dancing, No Dancing follows the return journey of a former aid worker back to three of the past decade’s major humanitarian crises to see what happened to the people and projects. Along the way, he searches for answers to how we can better respond to the emerging global humanitarian crisis.

The journey begins with a visit to South Sudan, the world’s youngest country where everything is on a grand scale from the distances travelled to the poverty of the people. Sleeping in huts and hitching rides on military convoys the author embraces life as it's lived by the South Sudanese. This leads to meeting young entrepreneurs striving to build their businesses, taking advice from local aid specialists and listening to tribal leaders give unvarnished views of foreign aid.

The story then moves to Iraq where the author meets women fighting in their own way for their place in society, an Ayatollah who accuses him of spying for the CIA and former staff proud to share their new-found success. Not always comforting—seeing failed projects or worsening poverty—the journey also offers an insight into the emotional and practical challenges facing aid workers.

The final stop on this journey is to East Timor. While focused on finding out what happened to a housing program he led a decade earlier the author realizes the answer to the problem besetting the aid industry.

No Dancing, No Dancing is a riveting book that weaves a story of slavers plying their trade, negotiating the release of a kidnapped colleague with insights into important questions of cultural imperialism, Western aid models and foreign interventions.