'Anyone wanting to understand this African tragedy should read Douglas Johnson's "The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars"...Mr. Johnson offers a brilliant analysis of the war and its causes written in simple, clear prose.' - The Economist 'Douglas Johnson has written a landmark book that deserves not only to change the nature of Sudan studies but how we think of war, peace and development generally. It is a task for which he is well qualified. As a historian with an anthropologist's eye, his interests span pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial conditions. Unique among contemporary writers, Johnson has not only made major contributions to the historiography of Sudan and the interpretation of its rich ethnography, he has also worked for the aid agencies that now populate much of this country. From this wide vantage point Johnson's critical book succeeds in rescuing Sudan from the heart of darkness that continues to be conjured by whistle-stop journalists and self-serving NGOs. Writing from the perspective of South Sudan he also addresses the long-standing bias in Sudan studies and the international mediation efforts in the current war: an implicit affirmation and tacit collusion with the expansive institutions of northern Arab society at the expense of its politically disadvantaged African hinterland... 'Douglas Johnson has written an important book. Not least, because it brings politics back into the North-South equation...Only with self-determination being a real option - something that successive governments have fudged or rejected - is there a possibility to negotiate a robust and equitable settlement. Without this, as in the past, peace will be a smoke-screen behind which the political antagonism between free and servile subjects will continue its violent and destructive work.' - Mark Duffield in Journal of Refugee Studies 'This authoritative and detailed study of Sudan's contemporary conflicts aims to discourage "quick fix" thinking by tracing the historical patterns of power and politics that have brought the country to its current impasse...Never just a matter of competition between religions, races, or regions, Sudan's multiple internal conflicts today are as seemingly intractable as ever, despite serious peace efforts. Students and researchers will benefit from the extended bibliographic essay and chronology included in this excellent book.' - Foreign Affairs 'This feisty book comes from a scholar who knows Sudan better than most and does not hesitate to let us know. The information distilled into this 120 proof paperback will rile a great many people, but I am among those who have been watching Douglas Johnson (from a safe distance) for a number of years and am delighted to see this long overdue and affordable book.' - Lillian Craig Harris in Sudan Church Review 'The plural of the title is sadly significant. Johnson's introduction points out that much of the writing on conflict in the Sudan (not a little of which has taken the form of self-justificatory statements by various actors) has recurred to a sterile debate, between those who identify "the war" as the continuation of a long pattern of "northern" oppression and those who attribute the conflict to the baleful consequences of British colonial policies which encouraged racial and ethnic tensions. The real value of this book is that it rises above this, partly by the remarkable breadth and depth of knowledge on which the author calls, but more importantly by its consideration of the multiplicity of the current conflicts.' - Justin Willis in Journal of African History 'The strength of the book lies in its detailed narrative of the development of the civil wars on the ground, especially the wars that began in 1983. Johnson is well placed to chronicle the tragedies, having researched Nuer history in the 1970s and long been involved in relief operations in the '80s and '90s... He is thus able to write with knowledge and insight, not only chronicling the wars, b
Sudan's post-independence history has been dominated by political and civil strife. Most commentators have attributed the country's recurring civil war either to an age-old racial divide between Arabsand Africans, or to recent colonially constructed inequalities. This book attempts a more complex analysis, briefly examining the historical, political, economic and social factors which have contributed to periodic outbreaks of violence between the state and its peripheries. In tracing historical continuities, it outlines the essential differences between the modern Sudan's first civil war in the 1960s and today, including an analysis of the escalation of the Darfur war, implementation of the 2005 peace agreement and implications of the Southern referendum in 2011 and the new war in Sudan'snew south and South Sudan. The author also looks at the series of minor civil wars generated by, and contained within, the major conflict, as well as the regional and international factors - includinghumanitarian aid - which have exacerbated civil violence. This introduction is aimed at students of North-East Africa, and of conflict and ethnicity. It will be essential reading for those in aid and international organizations who need a straightforward analytical survey which will help them assess the prospects for a lasting peace in Sudan.
Douglas H. Johnson is an independent scholar and former international expert on the Abyei Boundaries Commission.