Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe

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Overview

"In this history of the recent wars in central Africa, Gerard Prunier offers an account of how one terrible episode laid the groundwork for a sweeping and disastrous upheaval." Prunier vividly describes the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, when some two million Hutu refugees - a third of Rwanda's population - fled to exile in Zaire in 1996. Shortly thereafter, the new Rwandan regime sent its forces into Zaire and attacked the refugees. The Rwandan forces then turned on Zaire's despotic President Mobutu and, with the help of a number of allied African countries, overthrew him. But, as Prunier shows, the collapse of the Mobutu regime and the ascension of the corrupt and erratic Laurent-Desire Kabila created a power vacuum that drew Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and other African nations into an extended and chaotic war. The heart of the book documents how the whole core of the African continent became engulfed in an intractable and bloody conflict after 1998, a devastating war that only wound down following the assassination of Kabila in 2001. Prunier not only captures all of this in a riveting narrative, but he also indicts the international community for its utter lack of interest in what was then the largest conflict in the world.
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Editorial Reviews

Jeffrey Gettleman
…one of the first books to lay bare the complex dynamic between Rwanda and Congo that has been driving this disaster…what is never lost in Prunier's sweeping narrative is the sense of scale.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The bloodiest modern conflict you've never heard of gets a searching appraisal in this exhaustive history. Africanist Prunier (The Rwanda Crisis) follows the 1996-2002 war in the Democratic Republic of Congo through many bewildering twists and turns. Sparked by a Rwandan army incursion to clear out Hutu-dominated refugee camps on the border between the two countries, the conflict dragged in the armies of eight surrounding countries and an alphabet soup of Congolese guerrilla movements and tribal militias; millions died in the fighting and attendant massacres, starvation and disease. Prunier discerns many layers to the upheaval; a conventional struggle for political control of what had been called Zaire, it was also a multisided act of piracy aimed at looting the country's mineral wealth, an outbreak of generations-long ethnic hatreds and a ghastly symptom of Africa's ongoing crisis of weak and illegitimate governments. The author carefully untangles these complexities while offering unsparing assessments of the participants, including a vigorous indictment of Rwanda's Tutsi leaders for using the 1994 genocide as an excuse for their own atrocities. Lucid, meticulously researched and incisive, Prunier's will likely become the standard account of this under-reported tragedy. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"Mr. Prunier points out, the genocide in Rwanda acted as an incendiary bomb, setting fire to disputes that go back generations...Help(s) disentangle the fiendishly complicated histories of national and tribal identities, real and invented."—The Economist

"This unique and hugely ambitious book may turn out to be one of the most important to emerge on Africa for a long time."—Financial Times

"Lucid, meticulously researched and incisive, Prunier's will likely become the standard account of this under-reported tragedy."—Publishers Weekly

"Africa's World War is the most ambitious of several remarkable new books that reexamine the extraordinary tragedy of Congo and Central Africa since the Rwandan genocide of 1994."—New York Review of Books

"The book is remarkable not just because Gérard Prunier, who has spent his life studying African conflicts, is able to call on every academic discipline required to comprehend this gigantic disaster, but also because he was an eyewitness to much of it himself, and frequently has telling details to offer about the behaviour and motivation of key individuals. He writes, moreover, with a verve, sophistication and wit equalled, in my experience, only by fellow French intellectual Régis Debray."—The Sunday Times, UK

"Runier is immensely knowledgeable and passionate about his subject.... [He sorts] out some of the strands of an immenseley complicated and enormously devastating conflict, and for that we are surely in his debt."—Books & Culture

"Africa's World War is one of the first books to lay bare the complex dynamic between Rwanda and Congo that has been driving this disaster."—Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times Book Review

"War correspondents also love Prunier's work: Howard French, who covered Congo during the 1990s for the New York Times, recently placed Africa's World War on a list of books he thought President Obama should be reading."—The Nation

"One of the most remarkable qualities of this remarkable book is Prunier's ability to combine cool analysis and scholarly dispassion without losing sight of its horror... This is a profound book, and, to use an old-fashioned word, a noble one."—David Rieff, author of Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195374209
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/31/2008
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 557,640
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerard Prunier is a widely acclaimed journalist as well as Director of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa. He has published over 120 articles and five books, including The Rwanda Crisis and Darfur.

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Table of Contents

Glossary

Maps

Introduction

1 Rwanda's mixed season of hope (July 1994-April 1995) 1

2 From Kibeho to the attack on Zaire (April 1995-October 1996) 37

3 The Congo basin, its interlopers, and its onlookers 73

4 Winning a virtual war (September 1996-May 1997) 113

5 Losing the real peace (May 1997-August 1998) 149

6 A continental war (August 1998-August 1999) 181

7 Sinking into the quagmire (August 1999-January 2001) 227

8 Not with a bang but with a whimper: the war's confused ending (January 2001-December 2002) 257

9 From war to peace: Congolese transition and conflict deconstruction (January 2003-July 2007) 285

10 Groping for meaning: the "Congolese" conflict and the crisis of contemporary Africa 329

Appendix I Seth Sandashonga's murder 365

Notes 369

Bibliography 469

Index 515

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Excellently written; far too complex

    This book is excellently written and extremely detailed. Unfortunately, it is a maze of names, accronyms, and politics that are nearly impossible to remember without prior familiarity. If you have already read extensively on this subject and want to go more in depth, then this is the book for you. If you are wanting, like me, to learn for the first time about the "African World War," then I would recommend you look elsewhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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