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Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea Paperback – November 11, 2003
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“A writer of extraordinary intellect and passion . . .with a wonderfully lucid way of relating history as a living thing.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“This vivid account . . . tells very convincingly a story which the author claims was almost entirely ignored by Western media, diplomats, and relief officials. Kaplan paints a horrific picture of often fatal cruelty.” —Foreign Affairs
“Robert Kaplan is a scholarly and adventurous journalist. . . . He draws attention to long-term trends that other writers have little noted.” —The New York Times
“Kaplan is a gritty travel reporter and commentator on foreign affairs known for providing no-nonsense political-historical overviews of the dicey places he visits.” —The Washington Post Book World
From the Inside Flap
Robert D. Kaplan is one of our leading international journalists, someone who can explain the most complicated and volatile regions and show why they're relevant to our world. In Surrender or Starve, Kaplan illuminates the fault lines in the Horn of Africa, which is emerging as a crucial region for America's ongoing war on terrorism.
Reporting from Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea, Kaplan examines the factors behind the famine that ravaged the region in the 1980s, exploring the ethnic, religious, and class conflicts that are crucial for understanding the region today. He offers a new foreword and afterword that show how the nations have developed since the famine, and why this region will only grow more important to the United States. Wielding his trademark ability to blend on-the-ground reporting and cogent analysis, Robert D. Kaplan introduces us to a fascinating part of the world, one that it would behoove all of us to know more about.
Top Customer Reviews
What matters most in this book in Kaplan's use of realism when interpreting events in the Horn of Africa, as he has done in all his other books covering various hellholes around the developing world. While the famines in the mid-80s shocked the world, most Western people (and governments) thought that drought was the unavoidable culprit. However, Kaplan proves through ground-level experience that the famines were really the outcome of murderous political policies, as food (and the withholding of it) was used as a weapon by the ruling regimes to control dissident groups, while never-ending civil wars and power politics impeded distribution of aid money and supplies.
Beware that this book nearly collapses in Part 4 as Kaplan analyzes the actions of the US and USSR when the Horn became embroiled in Cold War politics.Read more ›
Worst of all, Kaplan embraces the politics he presumedly criticizes: "Surrender or starve" is not the slogan of the former Ethiopian communist regime, it is Kaplan's own motto. According to the author, we should have left 10 million Ethiopians starve in 1984-85, so as to foster a local rebellion against communist rule! To put it bluntly, this book is scholarly defective and morally despicable.
Forget Kaplan. If you really want to be informed about the complex reality of Ethiopia and neighboring countries, take a look at any of the books written by historians Bahru Zewde and Harold G. Marcus or by anthropologist Donald Donham. And if you want to be informed and at the same time enjoy a superb literary experience go for Ryszard Kapuscinski's "The Emperor"!
Eritrea is the one country that receives unabashed, effusive praise from Kaplan. I question whether any nation can be as noble and high-minded as Kaplan portrays the Eritreans, but if there is any truth in his descriptions, Eritrea provides an example of what Africans can accomplish despite war, colonialism, religious diversity, and starvation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kaplan has great books because he is on the ground, describing what he sees. This one would have been better if I would have read it years ago. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kenneth E. Mayer
I always enjoy reading Robert Kaplan, so the book is a great tour of Africa. Even though the material is now somewhat dated, I am sure that the political and social contexts have... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
I apologize for the obnoxious and arguably flippant alliteration in that title, but it manages to be remarkably accurate. Read morePublished 10 months ago by John A. Evicci
A good history of what really happened in the horn of Africa twenty years ago.Published 13 months ago by Ron
very biased, although admittedly so. Better than anything else I could find on Ethiopia. Could be more well rounded in what it covers.Published on November 23, 2013 by Russ Merritt
I've been reading Kaplan for years. He has a unique way of exploring an issue or region of the world and bringing it home for the reader in a way that balances history, politics,... Read morePublished on October 25, 2013 by Polarbear
Surrender or Starve is a solid book that deserves reading, especially if you knew nothing of the Ethiopian/Eritrean conflict. Read morePublished on October 27, 2007 by Ryan Mcgonigle