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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One reason we shy away is the conflict's stunning complexity, April 4, 2011
This review is from: Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa (Hardcover)
*****
"How do you cover a war that involves at least 20 different rebel groups and the armies of nine countries, yet does not seem to have a clear cause or objective?" Jason K. Stearns

The Congo, a vast country as big as Western Europe, wildly rich in natural resources, and valuable minerals as diamonds and uranium, having common borders with nine central African nations, has received little sustained media coverage, even during its political crisis striving for democracy, after independence, in 1960. I was on a consulting job in Zambia, and drove to Ndola to meet a friend who taught at the university of Lubumbashi, the park was so peaceful, and the visitors were friendly. In two decades, after its economic collapse in 1996, the (Dem. Rep.) Congo was destructed by an annihilating war, in which millions lost their life in a deliberate genocide. The brutal war has left hundreds of thousands of women gang-raped and left millions of war-­related disabilities, and more than three millions were forced to flee their villages. Jason Stearns, who worked for the United Nations in Congo, tells the tragic story of chaos and suffering in, "Dancing in the Glory of Monsters," explaining the tragedy of the Great War of Africa, and the destruction of the Congo, where almost all state institutions of public services crumbled. The author describes the inhumane fights, "like layers of an onion, the Congo war contains wars within wars."

"Dancing in the Glory of Monsters" is the best account so far: more serious than several recent macho-war-correspondent travelogues, and more lucid and accessible than its nearest competitor,.." wrote Adam Hochschild in the N Y Times.
While Douglas Rogers, author of " A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa" wrote, under 'The Triumph of Fear, "The war in Congo- a state that has known little but slavery, colonialism and dictatorship for four centuries- started not as a civil war but as "a regional war, pitting a new generation of young African leaders against the continent's dinosaur, Mobutu Sese Seko. Its catalyst, moreover, was self-defense. It was planned and fought by Congo's tiny neighbor, Rwanda" quoting Stearns own description.

Adam Hochschild concludes in his compelling NY Times review that, "The task facing anyone who tries to tell this whole story is formidable, but Stearns by and large rises to it." As for me, the brave engaging writer refreshes my painful childhood memories of the post WW II movies, about the Holocaust, which kept happening in Bosnia, and Darfur. So, I skimmed through the book to find quick answers to my desperate questions within its chapters, and was chocked by his simple explanation of international non decision, "One reason we shy away is the conflict's stunning complexity." Could this be a justifying defense for the Clinton Administration? A blogger wrote about Libya, "Obama needs to get on the horn with Bill Clinton - there are lessons of history we can't afford to ignore."
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