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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on September 20, 2005
Prunier wrote "The Rwanda Crisis", which I think is the best analysis of the genocide in Rwanda. When I heard that he had a book on Darfur coming out, I was very eager to read it. I ordered a copy from London because it was published by Hurst & Co. two months before being released in the USA.

This book on Darfur is excellent. It is a thorough and scholarly examination of the crisis in Darfur, and he also analyzes the international community's response to it. The writing is dense and difficult, but it's worth it.
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For those familiar with Darfur only through George Clooney's media-savvy pleading to raise awareness of the genocide occurring there, Gérard Prunier's incisive, often scathing examination of the volatile political situation in this western Sudanese province provides quite a bracing, fascinating education. A French ethnographer and respected expert on East Africa, he brings together surprising facts about the war-torn area and the evasive actions taken by the National Islamic Front (NIF) government in Sudan's capital, Khartoum. The scope of the conflict is shocking - an estimated 400,000 deaths and 2.5 million displaced since it started in February 2003. But Prunier gets beyond the figures to paint a community so burdened by its own intertribal complexities that it maintains an unfortunate separateness from the rest of the country. He points out not only the passive actions emanating from Khartoum, but also how Darfur has fed into its own sovereignty by looking west toward the Sahel for its resources rather than the rest of Sudan.

The author does not hold back on his harsh criticisms of the NIF government which he sees as intentionally encouraging Darfur's ethic polarization between the Janjaweed and the non-Baggara people in order to maintain control over the area. Intriguingly, he sees the burgeoning racial politics as the result of increasing Arab influences in Khartoum since the official administrative perspective is blatantly insensitive to the traditional tribal cleavages in Darfur. These divisions are what lie at the heart of the atrocities in Darfur since they have ramifications on the economic and military situation, which began when the Sudan Liberation Army took up arms in 2002. The NIF unleashed militias to deal with the problem, but political infighting in Khartoum vetoed any acts of outright repression. This ongoing stand-off has caused up to one-half of Darfur's population to be driven into camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). In this isolated state, Prunier points out that they are beyond the reach of international food aid, and malnutrition has festered to the point of casualties amounting to an 8% depletion of the population each year.

Humanism issues aside, the NIF has no incentive to address the devastation since their top priority is to maintain political supremacy, and from an outsider's perspective, they have managed to convince the rest of the world that they are supporting the Naivasha peace process. Prunier shows that it is ironically this peace process that assures the continued genocide. The UN Security Council has passed resolutions attempting to force the Sudanese government's hand in controlling the spiraling morass in Darfur. However, the UN is hamstrung by its inability to deploy peacekeeping forces in the area, and neither none of the major Western powers have troops available to send in their place. The author effectively shows how the UN has placed a greater priority in bringing a conflict-ridden Sudan back into the international community than deal with what they perceive as a civil war among insurgents. Because it is not a concentrated effort like the Nazis in WWII, genocide is not even an accepted term for what is going on there. Prunier does an excellent job of breaking though the semantic confusion to get to the day-to-day reality of the regional devastation. This is essential reading for anyone wanting to know what Darfur really means.
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on August 4, 2007
If you will read just one book about Darfur, I can't imagine a better choice. Nothing else I've read so deftly sorts through Darfur's complex history, making clear how geographic, economic, social and political strands of the region's past made it vulnerable to the crimes perpetrated there. Prunier takes a seemingly incomprehensible story and makes it almost perfectly comprehensible. Prunier shatters all the myths and cliches that pervade media accounts of the conflict and so vex critical thinkers, who know that it can't be that simple- that there is more and at the same time, less to the story. His analysis of the Sudan's history is concise, compelling and dead on. Moreover, though the North-South war which raged for over 40 years is not the book's focus, he brilliantly analyzes how that struggle relates directly to Darfur. Chillingly, he explains how, for the Khartoum government, its actions ( and inactions ) in Darfur are perfectly logical and, from their perspective, quite effective. As one reads Prunier, he can imagine how readers years ago must have been sickened and yet, oddly "reassured "( I can't find the right word ) when they realized that the Holocaust was explainable. I say this not to compare Darfur to the Holocaust. Prunier doesn't do that either. What I refer to is the provision of explanation for events so mind-bogglingly horrible that one wants to grasp the causes, yet fears that this can't be done. If you are compelled to understand the historical roots of this horror, order Prunier now.
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on August 10, 2014
It your heart is not broken reading this book you don't have one. That said, it is written a bit dryly and never goes for the sympathy ploy. It is fully referenced and that makes the reality of how horrible the situation was even worse.
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on May 18, 2011
This book, written by my friend Gerard PRUNIER, is informative and, gratefully, very readable. If you have never heard Prunier lecture, be sure to find out where he will be speaking next. He is even more witty in person. He is unique in his ability to draw on events in the region to illustrate his observations about the terrible condition in which Darfur, Sudan, Africa and the big powers find themselves in this genocide which persists much longer than any activists feared it would.
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on November 28, 2008
This book is one of the essential sources on the Darfur conflict. Prunier writes in detail about the period when Darfur was an independent sultanate and discusses complex ethnic distinctions in the region - from the "African" and "Arab" tribes to ethnic and tribal differences among both groups.

The author notes that people with different ethnic and tribal backgrounds lived in Darfur in relative peace for centuries but have been exploited and politicized by the governments of Sudan, Chad, Libya, and other external forces in the 1980s, thus polarizing Darfur's "Arabs" and "Africans" and setting the stage for the current conflict.

The book examines colonial and post-colonial neglect of Darfur and its people and the author makes a connection between this and the rebellion that began in 2003. Prunier ends the book with a discussion about the genocide claims, media coverage of the crisis in the West, and the role the Darfur conflict plays in the general Sudanese context.
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on September 20, 2009
The author does a remarkable job of providing the history of Darfur and all of the causes of the on-going genocide, the reasons that any meager attempts to end the suffering has failed, and the current situation. Although this is obviously a very complex environment, the author provides his information is a fashion that is understandable and yet allows the reader to understand the nuances of the situation.

It is truly an incredibly sad account of a region of the world whose location has been important over time to both the Sudanese government and also outside players such as Libya and Chad. However, the people who live there have never been important to these same players - in fact their presence has more often than not been an annoyance and their lives have of late been considered expendable.

I highly recommend this book, you can't conceive of the horrors that can play out in this world if you don't allow yourself to become informed.
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on February 5, 2008
Very precise, very clear book. And necessary for anyone who wants to try to understand something about Darfur - yesterday, today, and, perhaps, tomorrow.
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on May 28, 2009
It is great to be informed on what is happening has has been happening in Darfur.
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