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Poor Editing Harms Presentation
on July 27, 2007
I'm not an expert on Darfur nor do I spend much time reading about African politics. I came to this book in the hopes of understanding the Darfur crisis better. Parts of this book are excellent, but the poor editing and confused chronology for the updated section at the end nearly make the book useless for the uninformed reader. The first section on historical background is fascinating and for the most part clearly written, although it would have been useful to offer a clearer chronology of events in Chad, which have an important impact on Darfur.
Unfortunately, the editors did not take the time to correct numerous spelling, syntax and grammatical errors that existed in the 2005 version. I'm not a good copy editor with my own work, but these errors were so numerous and obvious as to be a bit disheartening.
But this is a mere annoyance compared to the confusing additional text added in this "revised" edition. (1) The glossary of Arabic terms is useful, but incomplete. (2) The list of abbreviations is incomplete, and quite often the abbreviations are not even spelled out with their first use. Try to figure out what AMIS stands for. (3) There are numerous mistakes and inconsistencies in the use of abbreviations. On page 161 the Common Peace Agreement (CPA), which one does not find in the list of abbreviations, is misspelled as DPA! Or does the author mean the DPA, another unlisted acronym?! Try sorting this out as a non-specialist. The author switches randomly between the use of the abbreviation SLA and SLM for a key rebel group - it's the same group, but again very confusing. I was only able to understand this based upon other outside reading. No explanation is given in the text.
Finally, the constant temporal shifts that occur in the "new and revised text," which should take the reader through 2005 and 2006 is almost on the edge of being useless, unless the reader is so familiar with the material that the reader can sort out the confusion. Read the final pages and tell me, if you can, when the DPA, another abbreviation not listed at the front, was signed, in 2005 or 2006? You'll have to look elsewhere for the answer to this important and basic question.
The editors of the Cornell University Press series Crises in World Politics, have done much better elsewhere with "Peace at Any Price - How the World Failed Kosovo," a far superior work on a similar topic. This book does not live up to that standard. - Mark A. Wolfgram