Recent Books on International Relations: Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know/South Sudan: From Revolution to Independence

By Van De Walle, Nicolas | Foreign Affairs, November/December 2012 | Go to article overview

Recent Books on International Relations: Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know/South Sudan: From Revolution to Independence


Van De Walle, Nicolas, Foreign Affairs


Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know. by ANDREW NATSIOS. Oxford University Press, 2012, 280 pp. $74.00 (paper, $16.95).

South Sudan: From Revolution to Independence. by MATTHEW LERICHE and MATTHEW ARNOLD. Hurst, 2012, 320 pp. £19.99.

Among the many recent books on Sudan's enormous and persistent potential for violent conflict, these two deserve special notice. Natsios provides a clear and dispassionate general introduction to the country's history and politics, designed for the lay reader. Intimately involved in the subregion as a special envoy to Darfur during the George W. Bush administration, Natsios sheds some light on the decision-making process in the Bush White House as it grappled with the Darfur crisis and the negotiations that eventually led to an independent South Sudan. He reports that Secretary of State Colin Powell and his successor, Condoleezza Rice, both took a personal interest in Africa and were instrumental in proposing ambitious U.S. policies in the region. The book's main achievement, though, is to succinctly explain Sudan's history of conflict and violence, with its roots in the colonial era. Natsios argues that economic and political power in Khartoum was historically concentrated in the hands of a narrow elite drawn from three small Arab tribes from the Nile River valley of northern Sudan, who composed only about five percent of the country's population and favored the populations of their region and Khartoum. …

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