Douglas H. Johnson, a scholar, whose interest in Sudan's South is now more that 10 years old has expanded a 1996 review of the UN Operation Lifeline Sudan into a 234 pp. book about the Sudan Conflict which gives a very good overview of the historical development of the conflict, its major players, the role of natural resources, the slavery debate and the role of NGOs or the UN in General. I particularily like that he is ready to take on other Authors in the cause to be objective. Millard Burr and Rober O'Collins for example can enjoy the fact that Johnson draws a connection between their relation to Chevron and their reporting on the company - ouch. But Politicians also get very bad comments: Dr Lam Akol is described as a man, who consistantly alienates the people surrounding him and the former "Assistant President" of Sudan Dr Riek Machar gets the verdict, that his achievementswere " fomenting Civil War amongst the Nuer and handing the oilfields over to the Gouvernment" - ouch. This refreshing frankness is unfortunately tempered by factual mistakes Johnson makes from time to time. I somewhat doubt the John Garang really is a Twic Dinka as in southetn sudanese internal debates he is considered to be Dinka Bor debate and clearly there is no dichotomy between Arabs and Baqqara in Darfur. By sudanese standards the Baqqara are Arabs and that is that. It also shows that the study was first created in 1996, as say Dr Michael Wal Duany, the leader of a minor politico-military movement in Upper Nile is not even mentioned and the long time Nr 2 of the SPLM and SPLA Cdr. Salva Kiir only once ( as more militarily experienced than Dr Garang), while Dres Lam Akol and Riek Machar get many pages and even juicy stuff like Machar's british wife Emma McCune's comments on lovemaking and drawing up constitutions get reported. All in all the book also seems to underrate the terror that John Garang instilled in many leaders in the beginning of the movement. In the earlier days of the movement -at least up to 1994- he used such tactics quite a bit to bolster his own position. Johnson thus paints the defection of William Nyon Bany as mere mercenary, when the man, who unfortunately became Chief of Staff instead of remaining an aggressive and successful Field Cdr., probably feared for his life, because he knew that staff work was not his forte. Yet even with such minor to medium disagreements, this is a good and helpful book and if you only want to read one book on the conflict, this is it.