In This Review

Africa's Thirty Years' War: Libya, Chad, and the Sudan, 1963-1993
Africa's Thirty Years' War: Libya, Chad, and the Sudan, 1963-1993
By J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins
Westview Press, 1999, 317 pp

A lively, detailed, and informative study that focuses on the influence of neighboring states on Chad's long civil war. The authors consider ethnic, religious, cultural, technological, geographic, and meteorological variables and present brief but enlightening political portraits of the story's protagonists. Historically situating the war within the struggle for supremacy along the borders of the Islamic world, the book seeks to explain why so many governments invested so much for so long in the control of such seemingly worthless expanses of sand and rock. The authors assess the flip-flopping policies of successive regimes in Khartoum, Muammar al-Qaddafi's efforts to annex the Aozou Strip and manipulate Chad's warlords, as well as France's ambiguous role in the conflict and the cautious interventions of the United States. What is surprising for a book so extensively researched (one of the authors is a geographer) is that its seven maps fail to locate some of the places most frequently mentioned, and an embarrassing number of editing errors mar the text.