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A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique (Perspectives on Southern Africa) New Ed Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520082663
ISBN-10: 0520082664
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This engrossing, sensitive account . . . details the results of a savage war that began in 1975, a year after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal. . . . A small classic about anarchy and the difficulties of nation building in post-colonial Africa."--"Publishers Weekly

From the Back Cover

'A brilliant, sometimes devastating eyewitness report of the civil war, sponsored by South Africa, that has killed a million Mozambicans.' --New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Series: Perspectives on Southern Africa (Book 47)
  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (February 26, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520082664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520082663
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This is a lively and well written book which deals with the period of civil war in Mozambique. It was completed and published just before the conclusion of a successful peace process and so provides a particularly clear and powerful view of recent history.It is based on the author's travels within country during the war period and includes extensive interviews. The people he talked and worked with emerge as very vivid and lively characters. The support of the rebels by Rhodesia and South Africa, and the reasons for that support, are well described. A must read for anyone going to work in Mz, strongly recommended for the serious traveler as well.
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The book`s main claim to relevance is the fact that the author travelled inside Mozambique during the war, getting a firsthand perspective on the suffering of the locals. That aspect of the book is compelling and extremely relevant, since there are very few written testimonies of how it was like during the war. The narrative is interpolated with research about the political forces and historical causes of the conflict. Most of the political part is composed of the scant facts we have about the war, told with a slight bias.

The fact that the two are blended, instead of placed in separated parts, makes less obvious the fact that they do not set light on each other very much. One part of reconstructing a major war is tracing the connection between the larger forces - in this case, South Africa`s role, the RENAMO leadership, the communist and anticommunist propaganda - and the battles seen from a close distance - the disruption of life, famine and terror caused by the guerrillas. A lot about the war in Mozambique is unknown and, or at least, unreported. We don`t know who in the South African Government was involved with RENAMO after the Nkomati accords, nor the number of Renamo victims, nor how many people were in concentration camps. The author`s field work, despite including some interviews with leaderships on both sides, adds little to the general picture. Furthermore, not much light is set about obscure aspects that should be cleared precisely by the kind of in loco studies this book provides, such as the different motivations and possible independence of the guerrilla groups. We don`t know the chain of command of the bandidos, and not very much about the foot soldiers.
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Having spent my teenage years in Mozambique during the 1950s, I've always felt a strong affinity for Mozambique and its people. I read Finnegan's book with a heavy heart, finally piecing together the puzzle of what has become of the, "Terra de boa gente", the land of the good people. Finnegan's book is amazingly sensitive and intelligent. This is a book built on a foundation of deep insight, patience and great scholarship. Through Finnegan's incisive reporting, I was transported back to this "harrowed" land down to the smell of the wood fires. Not having been in Mozambique since 1968, Finnegan re-kindled my interest and wish to re-visit this challenged land and to see it again for myself.
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