In This Review

In recent decades, few places have been as mired in violence as the Horn of Africa, which is home to more than 200 million people. Mengisteab’s definition of the region includes eight countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda. His book provides a good introduction to the structural and historical causes of the conflicts that have roiled those places. Mengisteab details the negative impact of colonialism, the problems of state formation in ethnically fragmented territories, the misrule by elites who often favor their own ethnic and regional bases, the harmful effects of military interventions launched by states in the region and outside powers, and the ravages of environmental degradation. A final chapter somewhat optimistically identifies democratization and government reform as the necessary prerequisites for peace, economic development, and state construction. Mengisteab does not always adequately distinguish between the region’s eight countries, but he has done a masterful job of explaining a set of incredibly complicated conflicts in a complex and underexamined part of the world.∂