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Sudan: Darfur and the Failure of an African State Paperback – July 27, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This accessible, informative book details and dissects the recent descent into chaos of Darfur and Sudan. Cockett, Africa editor for The Economist, uses Sudan's history under British rule and interviews with UN and other officials (including former members of the feared janjaweed) to present the deeply disturbing account of the 300,000 people who died and the three million who were driven from their homes. Cockett explains the geographical, political, and ethnic divide between Khartoum in the north, the home of the government and the wealthy and educated elite, and Darfur, 750 miles to the west, rich in oil but deliberately underdeveloped and plagued by devastating droughts. Khartoum politicians chose to "divide and rule" in order to gain land, forcing people out and ordering the janjaweed to destroy villages and kill inhabitants. Cockett maintains that the west shares the blame for these atrocities through a combination of misguided meddling and a lack of interest. Numerous maps and an impressive bibliography add credibility to this fine work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

‘In this informative, eminently readable history and analysis of Sudan’s failure as a state, Cockett draws on interviews with many of the main players. There is plenty of blame to go around, he says, citing 'meddling western politicians, over-simplifying activists, spineless African leaders, shamelessly silent Muslim countries … and myopic Sudanese politicians'.’—The Guardian
 
(The Guardian 2014-08-14)

“…well-researched, beautifully written and thoroughly absorbing, despite the wrenching tragedies [this book] must chronicle.”—George Ayittey, The Wall Street Journal

(George Ayittey The Wall Street Journal)

"For those readers who know nothing more about the country than what is reported in the Western media, his book will be a revelation."—The Gunboat
(The Gunboat 2011-01-01)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300162731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300162738
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
RC's dividend from his 5 years as Africa editor of 'The Economist' is an ambitious, challenging, well-structured and superbly written book about "what the hell went wrong with Sudan since independence". In 1956, its future looked promising, thanks to almost six decades of careful and intelligent institution building by a numerically small, but superbly-educated British caste of high-minded administrators. From Khartoum, and with minimal budgets, they made key decisions in transport (railways, river transport) and economic investment (e.g. the Gezira scheme), which at independence, had become clearly defined centres of activity, condemning the rest of Sudan to marginality, except for the population living along the Nile north of Khartoum, who overwhelmingly formed the local supervisory staff of these ventures.
Until 1956, the northern and southern halves of Sudan had long been kept apart and were ill-prepared to live with one another in the new, post-colonial era. War erupted in 1955 and continued until 1972. The (post-) colonial heritage has always been criticized and used as an excuse for a lot of the subsequent policy mistakes and mayhem, time and again, by Sudan's rulers and its Western-educated academics. They surely have a point, or some point.
RC has written a fast-paced book based on interviews with informants in the US, UK, Kenya and all over Sudan, and has relied on only a selection of the written sources available. He has avoided too much detail and refused to be drawn into academic disputes. Good recent accounts exist about the wars in Darfur and the South. This is the first book investigating Sudan's internal conflicts in its Southern, Western and Eastern regions at a time when the regime was (and perhaps still is) under suspicion of supporting worldwide terrorism.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent history of Sudan. The title suggest that it is only about Darfur but that is not the case at all. This is a history of the whole of the Sudan. There is just as much about the civil war in the south as there is about Darfur. The book emphasises the fact that the cause of Sudan's problems is the failure of the elite in Khartoum to have any serious interest in developing the peripheries. And the "peripheries" means anywhere beyond the riverine heartland centred on Khartoum. The book covers all the big figures in post-1956 Sudanese history: Numayri, Bashir, Turabi and John Garang.

After visiting Juba last year I wanted a good overview of the modern history of Sudan. I have now read several histories and this one is the best. Written by a journalist, it is easy to read. Strongly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The information contained in this book is quite good. The historical timeline of the conflict spanning Sudan and Darfur are very thorough given the abbreviated length of the book. The downside is entirely stylistic. Consistency is an important piece of writing and this book lacks it almost entirely. The date format changes page by page and, more frustratingly, most acronyms are never, ever defined until the final chapters of the book. So you spend the majority of the reading not know what different acronyms stand for which information would be very helpful to correlate the Acronym named organization to the side it's fighting on. Very shocked to see Yale back a book with this lack of editorial clarity. But that seems to be what you get with major universities now.

Also, the complexion of the country, now countries, has changed dramatically since the publication of this book and an additional chapter would be much appreciated.
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