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Cockett is the Economist's Africa editor, and has produced here a very readable account of the last few decades and years in Sudan, explaining how the Darfur crisis came about and exploring the international reaction to both Darfur and the sputtering implementation of the peace agreement between the government in Khartoum and the southern part of the country.

Among those professionally engaged in Sudanese matters I am a member of the small minority who are not covering Darfur at all, so I found this book very useful in contextualising my own concerns within the international community's wider agenda. Cockett explores rather viciously (though I have seen even more vicious analysis) the impact of international activism on Sudanese politics and Western policy. He also has a couple of good sections on Asian involvement, particularly but not only China. I missed, however, a decent explanation of the roles of Libya and Chad in Darfur, which borders both. I was also puzzled by his repeated bemoaning of how the politics of building coalition governments doomed Sudan; it's not clear to me (and it certainly isn't clear from his account) that the current regime, effectively a one-party state with a few southern trimmings, has delviered better results than its predecessors. And although the chronology of events in Darfur in the recent period is good, and the accounts of the conditions of life and death are pretty horrific and memorable, I wiould have liked to read a judicious summing up of what exactly had happened and who he thinks was really to blame.

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