A Dirty War in West Africa: The Ruf and the Destruction of Sierra Leone

Overview

"Provides important insider information concerning Sierra Leone’s recent war... and builds on [the author’s] established reputation as an insightful and courageous journalist." —William Reno, Northwestern University

A Dirty War in West Africa recounts Lansana Gberie’s harrowing experiences as a journalist during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone. Since 1991, this West African nation has been brought to its knees by a series of coups, violent conflicts, and finally, outright war. The war has ended today, ...

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Overview

"Provides important insider information concerning Sierra Leone’s recent war... and builds on [the author’s] established reputation as an insightful and courageous journalist." —William Reno, Northwestern University

A Dirty War in West Africa recounts Lansana Gberie’s harrowing experiences as a journalist during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone. Since 1991, this West African nation has been brought to its knees by a series of coups, violent conflicts, and finally, outright war. The war has ended today, but it is clear that things are hardly settled. Focusing on the group spearheading the violence, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Gberie exposes the corruption and appalling use of rape and mutilation as tactics to overthrow the former government. Gberie looks closely at the rise of the RUF and its ruthless leader, Foday Sankoh, as he seeks to understand the personalities and parties involved in the war. This sobering and powerful account reveals the domestic and international consequences of the Sierra Leone conflict.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
Gberie, a journalist and longtime observer of Sierra Leone's politics,has written an evenhanded and perceptive account of the country's tragic civil war during the 1990s. Much of his story focuses on the rebel leader Foday Sankoh, a small-time political entrepreneur who emerged from radical student politics, went through military training in Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya, and went on to lead the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in one of the most vicious and pointless civil wars of the twentieth century. Gberie aptly compares Sankoh to a character in a Dostoyevsky novel. Despite its thin veneer of left-wing rhetoric, the RUF was motivated by the substantial profits available from control of the illicit diamond trade and by a nihilistic cruelty that led it to rape, maim, and kill a large number of the civilians that crossed its path in the Sierra Leonean countryside. Notwithstanding his evident lack of organizational abilities, Sankoh held tenuous sway over the RUF thanks to a combination of personal charisma and a ruthlessness that led him to kill off potential rivals. Gberie's analysis is consistently readable, and he does a fine job of disentangling the complexities of the civil war, the international peacekeeping efforts, and the reemergence of reasonably stable constitutional rule under President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in the early years of the twenty-first century. The book ends there, and it unfortunately provides little insight into the long-term impact of the decade of civil conflict on Sierra Leone.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253218551
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 736,546
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Lansana Gberie is a research associate at the Wilfried Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic, and Disarmament Studies. He covered the Sierra Leone civil war as a journalist for Inter Press Service.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: The RUF Phenomenon
2. Sierra Leone: From Independence to State Recession
3. The Making of the Revolutionary United Front
4. War and State Collapse
5. Not Just a Coup: The AFRC Takeover of 1997
6. "Operation No Living Thing" and Terror as Warfare
7. From "U-Nasty" to "Model Peacekeeping"
8. Diamonds and the RUF's War
9. Epilogue: The Reckoning
Index

Indiana University Press

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