In This Review

The Eritrean Struggle for Independence: Domination, Resistance, Nationalism, 1941-1993
The Eritrean Struggle for Independence: Domination, Resistance, Nationalism, 1941-1993
By Ruth Iyob
Cambridge University Press, 1995, 214 pp

A straightforward, competent account of the development and eventual triumph of the Eritrean independence movement. The author first considers the global and regional context of the conflict, which enabled Ethiopia to exploit African and Western fears of instability for many years and to ensure that the principle of territorial integrity would always trump the right of peoples to self-determination. She casts these contradictions within a Foucaultian framework in which Ethiopia’s ‘regime of truth’ legitimated its imperial designs in the eyes of the Organization of African Unity, the United Nations, and the Western powers. Once the Soviet-backed regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam superseded imperial rule after 1974, she argues, ‘the orchestra changed, but the music remained the same’ until the end of the Cold War brought Mengistu’s collapse. The book’s second half presents a concise history of the various Eritrean liberation movements, emphasizing the remarkable evolution of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front into a politically and militarily effective force. A useful companion to Dan Connell’s vivid on-the-ground chronicle, Against All Odds.