Darfur's Sorrow: A History of Destruction and Genocide; Sudan: The Elusive Quest for Peace

In This Review

Darfur's Sorrow: A History of Destruction and Genocide

By M. W. Daly
Cambridge University Press, 2007
388 pp. $75.00
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Sudan: The Elusive Quest for Peace

By Ruth Iyob and Gilbert M. Khadiagala
Lynne Rienner, 2007
224 pp. $16.95
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Daly's excellent history of Darfur can be added to the list of recent fine works providing background on the current crisis there. It starts with the Fur Sultanate in the middle of the seventeenth century and traces the relationship of the region to a succession of political authorities in Cairo and then Khartoum through to the present day. Daly shows that the current isolation, environmental precariousness, and political and economic marginalization are in fact constants in Darfur's history. Since Sudan's independence, the central government has mostly ignored the region's needs, failing to invest in its infrastructure, education, or health. This neglect has not been benign: it has been accompanied by conscious policies to favor some of the region's ethnic groups at the expense of others, serving to exacerbate the region's complex ethnic divisions, already stressed by poverty and environmental degradation. Daly's patient disentangling of the history underscores the extent to which the government's support of the Janjaweed's murderous predations in the present era is not some temporary aberration but the logical continuation of a long-standing policy. Moreover, Darfur's incorporation into the Sudanese nation has always been viewed as a one-way process of acculturation.

Iyob and Khadiagala have produced a succinct introduction to Sudan's different conflicts. Here the focus is only briefly on history; the bulk of the text focuses on recent conflicts and policy issues associated with their resolution. Much of the analysis is of the long-standing conflict in southern Sudan and the talks that took over a decade but ended in the precarious peace deal between the Khartoum government and the rebels in 2005. The authors' analysis of the peace negotiations and the role of international mediation is first-rate; as is often the case with this kind of policy work, the material on domestic politics and factionalism within the government is more perfunctory. One leaves both of these works with the despairing sense that Sudan's many conflicts are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.