What happens to an African revolution nurtured on rigid Maoism, battered by 30 years of brutal warfare, divided into rival movements, bereft of external allies and ideologically committed to the construction of a single country out of a society traditionally splintered along religious, linguistic and class lines? By a supreme effort of will, patience and pragmatism, it succeeds. Doomsayers of the new world disorder notwithstanding, Africa's newest nation seems off to a reasonably propitious start, and this thoughtful and engagingly written account of the Eritrean war of independence goes far to explain why. Wartime attempts at social reconstruction are portrayed in a somewhat romanticized light, but the author readily acknowledges that political success will not easily be translated into rapid reforms in the post-independence era. The author, a freelance journalist and aid organizer, knows his subject intimately and is able to simplify its complex history for the general reader while still conveying much of its epic quality. A good choice to interest sophisticated younger readers in the study of Africa.
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