Between May 1998 and June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought what was at the time the biggest and bloodiest war in the world. While the Western powers and international news media focused on Kosovo, two of the world's poorest countries spent hundreds of millions of dollars to settle what was ostensibly a minor border dispute. How did this quarrel become so lethal, and why did the outside world do so little? The authors dismiss the view that the conflict was about borders. Instead they link the complex historical, ideological, and economic factors at work to show that the conflict was a civil war between the Tigrinya-speaking peoples who straddle the common border and whose leaders rule both countries. The authors argue that a failure to grasp the war's underlying causes made international mediators ineffectual, while political immaturity handicapped the ruling guerrilla chieftains on both sides. Sixteen documentary appendices add to the value of this case study in failed conflict resolution.