Omar al-Bashir and Africa’s Longest War
By Paul Moorcraft
Pen and Sword Books, 2015, 232 pp.
Omar al-Bashir has ruthlessly ruled Sudan since 1989. In 2009, his alleged role in orchestrating mass violence against civilians in Darfur earned him the distinction of being the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Moorcraft was granted a remarkable amount of access to Bashir and his closest advisers and presents the Sudanese president as a leader treated unfairly by the West and as an often reluctant actor in the terrible events that have marked his reign. It’s an unpersuasive portrait and one that oddly makes Bashir seem not particularly interesting. Prior to the coup that brought him to power, Bashir was a career army officer, and the book focuses on military tactics and campaigns. More about Bashir’s legendary skills as a political tactician and Machiavellian wielder of power—the keys to his remarkable longevity—might have made for a more valuable and credible book.