The World's Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia

( 2 )

Overview

Although the war in Afghanistan is now in its endgame, the West’s struggle to eliminate the threat from Al Qaeda is far from over. A decade after 9/11, the war on terror has entered a new phase and, it would seem, a new territory. In early 2010, Al Qaeda operatives were reportedly “streaming” out of central Asia toward Somalia and the surrounding region.

Somalia, now home to some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, was already the world’s most failed state. Two decades of ...

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The World's Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia

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Overview

Although the war in Afghanistan is now in its endgame, the West’s struggle to eliminate the threat from Al Qaeda is far from over. A decade after 9/11, the war on terror has entered a new phase and, it would seem, a new territory. In early 2010, Al Qaeda operatives were reportedly “streaming” out of central Asia toward Somalia and the surrounding region.

Somalia, now home to some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, was already the world’s most failed state. Two decades of anarchy have spawned not just Islamic extremism but piracy, famine, and a seemingly endless clan-based civil war that has killed an estimated 500,000, turned millions into refugees, and caused hundreds of thousands more to flee and settle in Europe and North America.

What is now happening in Somalia directly threatens the security of the world, possibly more than any other region on earth. James Fergusson’s book is the first accessible account of how Somalia became the world’s most dangerous place and what we can—and should—do about it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Veteran journalist Fergusson's riveting narrative about strife-riddled Somalia is a glimpse of a potential future "should our own systems of governance ever be allowed to collapse." His journey to understand the problem took him beyond Somalia to visit diaspora refugees who fled during the two-decade span marked by the lack of a functional government. Taliban-influence al-Shabaab saw opportunity in a Somalia weakened by civil war, drought, and famine—and home to scores of fatherless young males vulnerable to indoctrination. Interviews with members of peace-enforcing AMISOM, local generals, medics, and a young man whose family had been destroyed give face to the suffering in a country where the estimated violent death figure is 500,000 and where few people are educated. Somalia's future lies with refugees who have become educated Western professionals, which Fergusson confirms in interviews with Somalis in Minneapolis and London, although he also details their struggles to adapt. Horrific suffering, brutality, and devastation—often caused by outside influences, including the U.S., but also by the "self-destructive obstinacy" of Somalis themselves—are all detailed in fluid reportage. Fergusson rounds out this invaluable work by noting the glimmers of hope appearing with the demand for education and disdain for the clan system. Maps & photos. (June)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, 5/1/13
“An intrepid journalist investigates the civil war, foreign interventions and mass starvation of Somalia…A compelling example of investigative reporting.”

TrulyArts.com, 4/25/13
“Fergusson deftly supplies some history and leads us on a tour of this hotbed of strife and turmoil.”

Booklist, 5/15/13
“[A] shocking and disturbing survey of the ravaged nation of Somalia…This is a sobering but necessary examination of the process of national disintegration.”

The Economist, 6/8/13
“Essential reading for those who seek to counter the menace…readable work. With ingenuity and no little courage he has travelled far and wide, within Somalia and among the Somali diaspora in Britain and America, delving into the soul of a ravaged community.”

PublishersWeekly.com, 6/24/13, starred review
“[A] riveting narrative about strife-riddled Somalia…[An] invaluable work”

Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct 2013
“Exceptional…Fergusson vividly recounts the grotesque horrors of the endless war in Somalia.”

Kirkus Reviews
An intrepid journalist investigates the civil war, foreign interventions and mass starvation of Somalia. Before focusing on Somalia, Edinburgh-based journalist Fergusson (Taliban: The Unknown Enemy, 2011, etc.) spent 16 years writing about Afghanistan, a similarly ungovernable nation that has resisted conquerors for centuries. The author is a worthy guide to the seemingly endless deaths in Somalia, often ranked by international observers as the most poorly governed, risky nation in the world. The vast majority of Somalians is illiterate, desperately poor and so committed to genetic ties within their particular geographic clan that pulling together as a nation seems hopeless. Many of the peacekeeping soldiers are from Uganda, ironic given that nation's recent bouts of sectarian violence. Since the Taliban had become one of Fergusson's specialties as a journalist, he found it intriguing that a similar group was gaining ground in Somalia: al-Shabaab. The movement considered itself populist and pure in its devotion to the Islamic faith—much like the Taliban. In the United States, perceptions of Somalia have been shaped in many ways by Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down and its film adaptation. As a result, American views on the Somalian people are negative and based on fear. Fergusson agrees that fear is justified in such a dangerous place, but he shows the shades of gray along with the black and white. An especially fascinating portion of Fergusson's investigation took him to Minneapolis, which has become home to a huge number of Somalian refugees, surely the largest diaspora of them outside the Horn of Africa. Some of the Somalians there, writes the author, are linked to violent groups overseas and thus might end up as terrorist threats. A compelling example of investigative reporting that suggests continuing mass death for an African population that cannot or will not help itself find peace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306821172
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 480,872
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

James Fergusson is a freelance journalist and foreign correspondent who has written for many publications, including The Times of London and The Economist. He is the author of Taliban: The Unknown Enemy and the award-winning A Million Bullets. He lives in Edinburgh.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    Downward Spiral

    I was initially interested in this work because it received a great review in a recent issue of The Economist and needed something new to read. I had never read extensively on Somalia, but have always been interested in East Africa. I was very disappointed with this book. The first section was insightful and moving, as well as eye opening. Everyone has heard about the mayhem in Somalia, but few have really experienced the trauma first hand. Beyond the first third of the book, though, the intensity drifts off and all you are left with his pretentious analogies and less than witty banter. There was a lack of respect towards hidden behind many passages, especially when discussing an isolated desert town, Taleh. Comparisons to things like James Cameron's "Avatar" made light, and just looked down upon, a culture that has survived some of the harshest environments and violence. This seemed more like an op ed piece than a journalistic foray into a war stricken land.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2014

    This book started really well, but after a while, it just turned

    This book started really well, but after a while, it just turned into one guy talking down to an entire society and people while making light of a very sad and desperate situation. The tone by the end of the book reeks of 19th century colonialism and distaste for "others." I am disappointed my money went to this book. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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