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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About 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.
Table of Contents
Part I Living on the Line
1 An African Stalingrad: The war against al-Shabaab 13
2 At the Bancroft Hotel: America's proxy war 24
3 The field hospital: What bombs and bullets do to people 43
4 Aden's story 58
5 The failure of Somali politics 80
6 What makes al-Shabaab tick? 101
7 The famine 131
Part II Nomads' Land
8 In the court of King Farole 157
9 Galkacyo: Pirateville 184
10 Hargeisa Nights 213
11 How to start a border war 227
Part III The Diaspora
12 The Somali youth time-bomb 251
13 The missing of Minneapolis 290
14 'Clanism is a disease like AIDS' 327
15 Operation Linda Nchi: The end for al-Shabaab? 362
Notes and Sources 383
Picture and Map Acknowledgements 397
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.