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A Complicated War / Edition 1

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Powerful, instructive, and full of humanity, this book challenges the current understanding of the war that has turned Mozambique—a naturally rich country—into the world's poorest nation. Before going to Mozambique, William Finnegan saw the war, like so many foreign observers, through a South African lens, viewing the conflict as apartheid's "forward defense." This lens was shattered by what he witnessed and what he heard from Mozambicans, especially those who had lived with the bandidos armado, the "armed bandits" otherwise known as the Renamo rebels. The shifting, wrenching, ground-level stories that people told combine to form an account of the war more local and nuanced, more complex, more African—than anything that has been politically convenient to describe.

A Complicated War combines frontline reporting, personal narrative, political analysis, and comparative scholarship to present a picture of a Mozambique harrowed by profound local conflicts—ethnic, religious, political and personal. Finnegan writes that South Africa's domination and destabilization are basic elements of Mozambique's plight, but he offers a subtle description and analysis that will allow us to see the post-apartheid region from a new, more realistic, if less comfortable, point of view.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
According to a United Nations survey, nearly a million Mozambicans have died in the fighting between the Soviet-backed Frente de Libertacao (``Frelimo'') and the South African-sponsored Resistancia Nacional (``Renamo''). Some three million have been driven from their homes, while food shortages are becoming acute countrywide. This engrossing, sensitive account by the author of Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black African Reporters details the results of a savage war that began in 1975, a year after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal. Finnegan describes the distintegration of the national economy (``Money means little because there's nothing to buy'') and the near destruction of the country's transportation and communications systems. He introduces us to Mozambicans who reveal how the war has affected their lives. The book, portions of which originally appeared in the New Yorker , is a small classic about anarchy and the difficulties of nation building in postcolonial Africa. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Among Africa's suffering is the little- known war in Mozambique, now in its second decade. Finnegan traveled through the country in 1988 to assess the impact of a war waged by guerrillas who are armed and often directed by South Africa. He tells a compelling story of rural misery caused by the war, which in turn offers a fertile ground for its continuation. Finnegan's narrative includes historical background and critical analysis of the Mozambique government whose policies have not created an inclusive framework for the nation. Finnegan is drawn to the conclusion that Mozambique's peasants long have been denied the fruits of peace: first under centuries of Portuguese colonialism; and now as they are exposed to the current war that is destroying their future. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries of all sizes.-- Bill Rau, Takoma Park, Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520082663
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 2/19/1993
  • Series: Perspectives on Southern Africa Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 875,228
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

William Finnegan is the author of Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid (1986) and Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters (1988). He is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Zambezia 1
Pt. 2 Beira 83
Pt. 3 Malawi 137
Pt. 4 Maputo 165
Pt. 5 Manhica 203
Pt. 6 Outside 235
Notes 259
Index 317
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