In This Review

The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars
The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars
By Douglas H. Johnson
Indiana University Press, 2003, 254 pp

This authoritative and detailed study of Sudan's contemporary conflicts aims to discourage "quick fix" thinking by tracing the historical patterns of power and politics that have brought the country to its current impasse. It shows how Sudanic states of the precolonial era established exploitative relations with their hinterland populations, which the colonial powers did nothing to redress, leaving modern Sudan to come to independence with no consensus on national goals and no strategies of development. The emergence of militant Islam in the late nineteenth century bequeathed to Sudan a narrow and ambiguous nationalism that strongly reinforced center-periphery tensions. Cold War influences and the interest of foreigners in Sudan's water and oil resources further complicated an already complex struggle for power and territorial control from the 1960s onward. Never just a matter of competition between religions, races, or regions, Sudan's multiple internal conflicts today are as seemingly intractable as ever, despite serious peace efforts. Students and researchers will benefit from the extended bibliographical essay and chronology included in this excellent book.