Students of international relations will appreciate this concise, serviceable primer on a region of Africa that remains geographically strategic even in the post-Cold War world. The author, a British academic, opens with country chapters on Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti, then presents topical essays on interstate conflicts, regional problems, external interventions, economic development, famine relief, and conflict mediation. General themes include the causes and effects of state collapse, the underdeveloped nature of nongovernmental organizations, the impact of Islam and Arabism, and the past, present, and possible future of border reconfigurations. Breadth trumps depth, leaving the 1998-99 Ethiopia-Eritrea war with less than one page of analysis. Although not wholly pessimistic, the author sees poor short-term prospects for reversing economic and social decay and for inducing "good governance" in the region. There are brief guides to sources, but no map.