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A Modern History of the Somali: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa (Eastern African Studies) Paperback – January 15, 2003

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A Modern History of the Somali: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa (Eastern African Studies) + Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group + Getting Somalia Wrong?: Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State (African Arguments)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Lewis writes authoritatively, magisterially, and often brilliantly.”
— African Studies Review


“By far the most penetrating of the works on Somali history and contemporary events…. Lewis is probably the only foreign social scientist ever to have won acknowledgment, if not always approval, among the critically minded Somali intellectuals and politicians. I have never lectured on Somalia with Somalis present without being reminded by them to consult his works.”
— Bernard Helander, Africa


“In their continuing struggle for freedom and independence from colonial rule the Somali people have confronted a situation that is without parallel elsewhere in Africa.… Thus, in contrast to the rest of Africa where states are struggling to become nations, teh Somali people represent a nation struggling to become a state.… I.M. Lewis brings unique and outstanding qualifications to the detailed narrative of these events.”
— Frank J. Mahony, American Anthropologist

About the Author

I.M. Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics & Political Science.
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Product Details

  • Series: Eastern African Studies
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press; 4, Revised edition (January 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082141495X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821414958
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Schneider on June 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
The fourth edition (2002) of I.M. Lewis' A History of the Somali is described on the back cover as "Somalia's most definitive history updated," and it is indeed a comprehensive survey of Somali history, opening at about the tenth century A.D. Those interested in reading the book for the insights it might provide about the Somalia of today will probably find most of this history to be of little interest, and evidently to some extent the book's reputation rests in part on its being among the first English language studies of the subject. That said, however, there are detailed discussions of colonialism in Somalia, colonial boundaries and administration, Somali independence, Siad Barre's regime, the 1977-1978 Ogaden War with Ethiopia, the United Nations intervention in the early 1990s, and the "descent into chaos" beginning in 1991, all of which are important to understanding Somalia in the 21st century. The book also covers some of the subsequent efforts to create a new, viable Somalia, however, seven years after publication there is now much more that could be said on that subject.

The book's comprehensive discussion of clans and clan politics is another strength. It is no exaggeration to say that in order to fully understand any historical event in Somalia it is necessary to know the clan affiliations of those involved. Lewis consistently discusses the role of the clans in his analyses of post-colonial historical events in Somalia, and this emphasis both helps communicate the clan's paramount importance and explain various outcomes. If it weren't for clan insights being distributed throughout the book, it would be possible to pick up A Modern History of the Somali, read the later chapters, and come away with a working knowledge of modern Somalia, but as it is it's best to start at the beginning.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anne S. Awad on February 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I.M. Lewis is the recognized expert on Somali cultural anthropology. He presents detailed and accurate information on clan and family structure that aids in understanding issues facing the culture (and nation/s) today.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keunsoo Jeong on June 22, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Essentional book to understand complex contexts of Somalia.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mahad Raage on March 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I borrowed this from the library a few weeks ago and I couldn't finish it. It's orientalist BS. If you're interested in Somali history see Said S. Samatar's books. It will help you to form a balanced view about history.
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